Skip to main content

Michigan State University has been forced to issue an apology after they thought it would be a good idea to feature a campus gift shop display that depicted prominent Black figures hanging from a tree.

The pictures of the offensive display were shared online by Krystal Davis-Dunn, a student at the university. The display featured several doll-like figures hanging on tree-shaped displays at a gift shop in the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, per NBC News.

The display included such figures as Barack and Michelle Obama, Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr. 

"At the Wharton, they are hanging prominent black figures from trees," Davis-Dunn wrote in her post, "what a way to honor Black History!" adding that she intended to vent as well as to "highlight the continuous acts of microaggressions" she has experienced as a Black student at Michigan State University.

"Seeing these prominent civil rights leaders hanging from trees felt like a degradation of the women suffrage movement and white synthesizers that were lynched during that era of civil rights," Davis-Dunn wrote an additional Facebook post. "Non-people of color may not be provoked or triggered by these displays, but for me and the group of people of color I was with... it was a visceral experience."

Emily Guerrant, a spokeswoman for the university has issued a statement following the negative feedback.

"Regardless of the intent of the display, its impact cannot be ignored — people were hurt and offended," Guerrant said.

"We sincerely apologize to our community members and have immediately removed the display," Guerrant said. "Additionally, after the Wharton Center reported the incident, it has agreed to provide employees and volunteers with racial bias training that focuses on the impact and understanding of intentional and unintentional racial bias.

"We recognize that we have more work to do to make MSU an inclusive and safe campus, and we're committed to making those changes," Guerrant said.