Claudine Gay, resignation, Harvard University

Over 300 Black Women In Washington State Sign Letter Supporting Former Harvard President Dr. Claudine Gay

Black women leaders have unified and gathered over 300 signatures in support of Dr. Claudine Gay following her resignation from Harvard University.

The resignation of Harvard University’s first Black woman president, Dr. Claudine Gay, has prompted more than 300 Black women leaders across Washington state to signed a letter supporting Gay.

The letter calls for support and spotlights systemic barriers Black women continue to face when pursuing leadership roles. Signatories range from officials and public figures to everyday Black women.

“Dr. Gay’s resignation prompts a call to action. We recognize the need to galvanize and collectively support one another,” LaNesha DeBardelaben, one of the letter’s organizers explained, according to The Seattle Medium. “Black women leaders often lack needed internal support, making leadership fraught with obstacles.”

Retired corporate executive Jacquelyn Howard concurred: “As Black women, racism and sexism have weathered us over generations—contributing to health issues and trauma literally shortening our lives.” She said standing together represents “a call to action” so Black women feel “cared for, seen and respected” to thrive.

“Every woman signing has faced disenfranchisement whether university presidents or order takers,” the letter’s co-author, Persephone Gary, emphasized. She said their collective action carries an urgent call: “This isn’t just about Dr. Gay’s case—we are mobilizing against ongoing attacks on Black women’s advancement across workplaces.”

Harvard appointed Dr. Gay in July 2023, making her the first president of color and only the second woman leader at the Ivy League university since it opened in 1640. Yet the educator was forced to resign within six months, which BE noted marked the shortest presidential tenure in university history.

The resignation was prompted by plagiarism accusations (which Harvard officials absolved her from) and her comments at a Congressional hearing, where the Associated Press noted Gay “was unable to say unequivocally that calls on campus for the genocide of Jews would violate the school’s conduct policy.”

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