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Thursday, June 20, 2024

White HBCU Professor Speaks Out After Winning Lawsuit Against Harris-Stowe State University

Last week it was announced that a jury found that historically Black, Harris-Stowe State University in Missouri discriminated against a white woman professor based on her race and gender. As a result, the university was hit with a judgment to pay Beverly Buck Brennan $750,000 for what the lawsuit alleged was “a racially hostile work environment at the St. Louis-based HBCU,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Beverly Buck Brennan, the professor who accused the HBCU of racial discrimination recently spoke to First Alert 4 exclusively in a sit-down interview.

“I loved my students. And I loved the potential that they had, and their commitment to really making a better life. And like me wanting to have fun while learning,” she said.

But she told First Alert 4 that around 2010 things started to change. “When I say changing, I’m talking about a revolving door, and at that point, things started changing for me. And I started experiencing a very hostile work environment,” she said.

In 2016, she sued Harris-Stowe, claiming age, gender, and racial discrimination.

“I had seen not just myself but many people treated in a way that I did not think was fair. And I’ve never sued anyone in my life. And I hope to never do it again. But I thought maybe by taking this action, it would inspire or urge some change at the institution,” she said.

Though Harris-Stowe denied her claims, after years of litigation in St. Louis City courts, a jury found she had faced a hostile work environment and awarded her $750,000. The verdict was handed down last week.

“I was pleased. Justice was done. The court did the right thing. Jury did the right thing,” said Thomas Sanfilippo.

Brennan’s attorney, Thomas Sanfilippo, said that despite being part of a famous family, Brennan’s case highlights that anyone can be discriminated against.

“They can be discriminated against on the basis of their race, gender, sexual orientation, skin color, genetic background, genetic information, disability. There’s all kinds of things protected by the Missouri Human Rights Act,” Sanfilippo said.

He said Beverly endured attacks by opposing counsel, attempting to discredit her by calling her a liar and a racist.

“Probably the two top things in my life I would never want to be,” she said.

Though his passion and work ethic were the greatest gifts he gave her, she told First Alert 4. They were part of the reason why she says she felt she had to stand up for herself.

“I think I would have felt worse doing nothing,” she said.

Brennan said she wants to give a portion of the jury’s award right back to the school to pay for a production of a musical in the theater.

Harris-Stowe is still entitled to appeal the decision. HBCU Buzz reached out to Harris-Stowe State University but has received no response as of yet.

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