President of the University of Pennsylvania Amy Gutmann speaks after faculty march, November 16.

Archived: President of UPenn Joins Protesters

Amy Gutmann, whose father escaped Nazi Germany, participated in a faculty solidarity march after racist texts were sent to Black students.


By Sheryl Estrada

Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the alma mater of President-elect Donald Trump, participated in a faculty-organized solidaritymarchagainst discriminationWednesdaynight on campus.

Last week following the presidential election, Black freshmen at the university began receiving racist and threatening messages via the cell phone text messaging app GroupMe. The messages were sent to more than 150 students.

President of the University of Pennsylvania Amy Gutmann speaks after faculty march, November 16.

The FBI traced the messages to three Oklahoma residents, including one student at the University of Oklahoma, who was expelled from the school on Tuesday.

Related Story: Be Careful: ‘Ni**er Lynching’ Texts Sent to Black Freshman Uncover Backdoor to Private Information

Penn has been reeling from the incident, which Gutmann said was “a tragic reminder of the overt and reprehensible racism that continues to exist within some segments of our society.”

Gutmann, president of the university since 2004, participated in the faculty senate solidarity march across campus,where they were joined by students and administrators.

Dr. Amy Gutmann

“At a time when people are so divided, this is hope that we are united as a university,” Gutmann said at the conclusion of the march. “This is what higher education has to do. I have deans here, I have students here, I have faculty and staff.”

According to Philly.com, Gutmann said the movement was personal for her “given that my father escaped Nazi Germany, and my mother was a child of the DepressionI just think of them smiling and saying this is what their life was all about. And they couldn’t live to realize it.”

In a 2011 interview with The New York Times, she said her father’s experience has influenced her leadership:

“The biggest influences on me for leading [that] preceded my ever even thinking of myself as a leader [was] particularly my father’s experience leaving Nazi Germany.Because I would not even exist if it weren’t for his combination of courage and farsightedness.He saw what was coming with Hitler and he took all of his family and left for India.That took a lot of courage.That is always something in the back of my mind.And my mother was a child of the Depression and so she triumphed against all odds.”

Wednesday night isn’t the first time Gutmann has participated in protests with students. In 2014, she faced criticism for participating in “die-in” protests held by students to symbolize the 4 1/2 hours that the body of Black teen Michael Brown remained on the street after he was shot.

Video from the march:

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