- The Washington Times - Monday, December 12, 2016

Students at the University of Pennsylvania removed an iconic portrait of William Shakespeare located at the entryway to the English Department and replaced it with one of Audre Lorde, a 20th-century black, feminist and lesbian poet.

The department voted to oust Shakespeare several years ago “in order to represent a more diverse range of writers,” reported the Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper of the university.

But the Bard remained standing until a group of students took the matter into its 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,” English Department chairman Jed Esty wrote in an email last week, upon finding the wall-sized picture of Shakespeare in his office.

In place of the stunning sketch of Shakespeare, students taped together 24 pieces of printer paper to produce a picture of Lorde. Mr. Esty said the image would remain until the department decides what to do with the space.

Lorde was a self-described “black lesbian, mother, warrior, [and] poet.” Themes such as race, gender and lesbian relationships are common throughout her work.

One of her poems, “The American Cancer Society Or There Is More Than One Way To Skin A Coon,” compares America unfavorably to emphysema.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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