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Students advocating for diversity at the University of Pennsylvania affirm their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department.

They have taken down a portrait of William Shakespeare from a prominent location on campus and replaced it with a photograph of a black lesbian American writer.

The Daily Pennsylvanian reported that UPenn’s English department had voted several years ago to replace Shakespeare’s portrait, but up until now no action had been taken, so a group of students decided to take matters into their own hands.

“Students removed the Shakespeare portrait and delivered it to my office as a way of affirming their commitment to a more inclusive mission for the English department,” department chairman Jed Esty told the paper.

According to Etsy, the department had “voted to relocate and replace the [Shakespeare] portrait a few years ago in order to represent a more diverse range of writers.”

Lorde was born in Harlem in 1934 and died in 1992. Her writings, which included poetry and prose, confronted racism, sexism and homophobia. She was also actively involved in the women’s rights, civil rights and LGBT rights movements. She was a self-described, “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.”

Audre Lorde



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