Leaving Liberty

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After a decade of declining black enrollment on campus, a tweet set off several recent departures among black students and staff.

A diversity director who builds trust with minority students through campus events. A scholar researching racial disparities in higher education. A divinity school PhD student with a heart for urban apologetics. A national recruiter focusing on applicants of color. A communications professor with a background in African American rhetoric. A rising basketball star who marches for black lives.

These represent a handful of the black members of the Liberty University community who have cut ties with the school over the past three weeks, as majority white institutions across the country are turning new attention to race and diversity.

In interviews with CT, they recounted defending Liberty in the past. But this time, they felt unable to excuse president Jerry Falwell Jr.’s tweet with the Virginia governor’s controversial blackface photo, even after he deleted the post and apologized for the unintended trauma and offense it caused.

To make a political point, Falwell suggested he would wear a COVID-19 mask displaying Gov. Ralph Northam’s controversial 1984 yearbook photo, which showed one college student in blackface and another dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes.

Falwell also sent out tweets in early June condemning George Floyd’s killing and supporting peaceful protestors near Liberty. But black staff members like Keyvon Scott, an outgoing online admissions counselor, believed the moment called for far more.

“If you want to show people what Christians are supposed to do, stand up for the black community,” Scott said. “Stand with people who are hurting and pray for the nation.”

The departing staff and students say frustration …

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