Law Professors

Stanford law prof who used quote with racial slur in class says he won't do it again

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Stanford law professor Michael McConnell has said he won’t use the N-word again after using the racial slur in class to illustrate how Southerners used racism to generate opposition to the creation of the Constitution.

McConnell, a former federal appeals judge, used the N-word in a quotation and attributed it to Patrick Henry, who was arguing against the ratification of the Constitution at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, report, Axios and the Stanford Daily.

McConnell is a co-chair of Facebook’s new content moderation oversight board.

McConnell initially told his class last Wednesday evening—after the classroom incident—that he understood that some people were upset by the quotation. But he said he didn’t think “that history should be stripped of its ugliness.”

The Black Law Students Association responded with an open letter taking issue with McConnell’s reasoning.

“If there is one thing black students know, it’s our own history,” the letter said. “Ahmaud Arbery is our history. Breonna Taylor is our history. George Floyd is our history. White men refusing to stop saying [the N-word] is our history.”

By Friday, McConnell sent an email to the law school that said he won’t use the word in future classes.

“First, I hope everyone can understand that I made the pedagogical choice with good will—with the intention of teaching the history of our founding honestly,” McConnell wrote. “Second, in light of the pain and upset that this has caused many students, whom I care deeply about, I will not use the word again in the future.”

Only seven months ago, law students criticized a Stanford history professor who use the N-word while giving a guest lecture in a torts class.

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