Challenged state college’s suspension and termination of Gerald Gee, a white professor who was said to have “harassed” students at historically black Florida A&M University. Prof. Gee told the students to make their own opportunities and avoid “what some would call a ‘nigger mentality’—the sort of thinking that can keep us all on the back of the bus forever.”

“GEE MAY BE GUILTY OF POOR JUDGEMENT, BUT HE HARDLY DESERVES THE KIND OF CENSURE DIRECTED HIS WAY BY FLORIDA.”

A&M PRESIDENT FREDERICK HUMPHRIES

Outcome: Loss. District Court rule that Gee’s speech was not protected by the First Amendment because it was not a “matter of public concern,” or public speech. Though Gee characterized his comment as “pedagogic” — speech designed to communicate a message from professor to student, the court called Gee’s statement “derogatory.”

Case Status: Loss

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