Teacher fired for making “racissss!!” comments about student who challenged an answer on a test.
Judy Morelock, a lecturer in the department of sociology, was terminated in April after the dispute with student Kayla Parker.
The argument was based on a multiple-choice exam question about the impact of slavery on African American families.
After the student challenged her teacher, Ms Parker says the lecturer unleashed a string of posts attacking the student on Facebook.
A spokeswoman for the university would not confirm why Morelock was removed part way through the semester and said the university was prohibited by federal law from discussing the exchange between Morelock and Parker, according to Knoxnews.
In a passionate Medium post, Kayla Parker wrote: ‘The whitewashing of Black history has historically been used to justify the barbaric behavior that White people inflicted on Black people for centuries and I was seeing this happen again in my class.’
She claims the professor was not interested in ‘having a conversation or hearing my concerns.’
What was the controversial question?
Historical research on African-American families during slavery shows that:
A) Family ties weren’t important in African cultures where the slaves’ ancestors originated; consequently, family bonds were never strong among slaves.
B) Two-parent families were extremely rare during the slave period.
C) Black family bonds were destroyed by the abuses of slave owners, who regularly sold off family members to other slave owners.
D) Most slave families were headed by two parents.
Parker chose C, but was told by her professor the correct answer is D.
Ms Parker added: ‘When class was in session, she began making backhanded comments directed at me.
‘After class, my Professor and I went into the hallway for our scheduled meeting. Before letting me speak, she spent 3 minutes flipping through various books and citing sociologists who didn’t explicitly mention the destruction of family bonds.’
Discussing the social media posts the student alleges were directed at her, Ms Parker says: ‘Apparently, she forgot about privacy settings on Facebook. Her comments include, but not limited to: “‘After the semester is over and she is no longer my student, I will post her name, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn… after she graduates, all bets are off” and “Ignore the facts, promote a misinformed viewpoint, trash me and I will fight you.”‘
Ms Parker added: ‘Fortunately, this story has the unusual ending of a University standing up for a student.
‘I was removed from the class, given alternatives for completing the course, and offered additional resources to ensure my safety.’
She went on: ‘When white people refuse to use their privilege and voice to fight against a society that disproportionately victimizes people of color, they are in fact contributing to a racist and unjust society.’
Morelock, in a Facebook message, said she had been advised by her attorney to not comment.
‘But I have to say this: For this woman to publicly call me a racist is outrageous and unconscionable, as promoting racial justice has been a large part of my life’s work,’ she said.
Speaking to MailOnline, Ms Morelock said: ‘I am a lifetime activist and proponent of racial justice, so being called a racist is the worse slur that anyone could possibly make against me.
‘Look carefully at the articles you have read, and you will notice that not one shred of evidence or one example of racism has even been provided.
She added: ‘I taught for 17 years at a historically black institution, Knoxville College, and hundreds of my former students, all of whom are African American, are Facebook friends who have been at the forefront of people defending me on social media. They are outraged that I have been referenced as a racist.’
Jenny Hines, a friend of Ms Morelock, added: ‘My husband and I have both known Judy Morelock for over two decades. To hear that she has been categorized as being racist can in no way be a legitimate claim. Judy has been a social justice advocate her entire life.’
The University of Knoxville Tennessee have been contacted for comment.