Rev. Al Sharpton said in an interview that her resignation is “an assault on the health, strength and future of diversity, equity and inclusion.” He added that her resignation is “a blow to the DEI movement that all of us in the civil rights community have been fighting for,” he said, adding that he sees the fight as “bigger than just her.”
Shaprton specifically took aim Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge fund manager and Harvard alum who has called on her to resign and suggested she was hired in part because of her race.
On January 4th, protesters joined Sharpton and the National Action Network (NAN) to picket outside of Ackman’s office in response to the resignation.
“President Gay resigned because she lost the confidence of the University at large due to her actions and inactions and other failures of leadership,” Ackman wrote on X on Tuesday in response to criticism on the social media platform over his role in Gay stepping down. “Gay resigned because it was untenable for her to remain President of Harvard due to her failings of leadership.”
Ackman also wrote an open letter to Harvard criticizing Gay’s failure to condemn the October Hamas attacks on Israel in her initial statement and has used his X account to post other criticisms of Gay.
At the protest, Sharpton defended DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) as a way to help historically discriminated minority groups.
"The proprietor of this business has said that the only way to solve the problem in Harvard and other places is to kill DEI, and he's asked for the entire board to resign. This issue is not just about what they did to this president of Harvard University who was the first Black and first Black woman. It’s about…they used her as a scapegoat to fight DEI," Sharpton said.
"We would not have to have DEI if we didn’t have D-E-N-Y. We were denied. DEI worked to make up for the denial historically of Blacks, of women, of gays and Latinos and Asians. Since this man decided that he would stand up and say that taking out Dr. Gay is killing or taking out DEI, I want to come to his office and let him know that we will fight him. We said nothing when the fight was at Harvard. But now he’s declared war against all of us," he said.