EXCLUSIVE: Read Claudine Gay's Private Resignation Letter to the Harvard Board

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January 2, 2024

Harvard president Claudine Gay resigned Tuesday amid a flurry of scandal involving blatant plagiarism and her refusal to condemn calls for Jewish genocide on campus. She will remain as a member of the Harvard faculty focused on "scholarship and teaching."

The text of Gay's official resignation letter, delivered via email to "members of the Harvard community," has already been published in numerous media outlets. The letter released to the public, however, is significantly different compared with the letter of resignation she hand delivered to the Harvard board.

Gay's private resignation letter was exclusively and semi-legally obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. We have published it below for your immediate edification. Enjoy!

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Eight score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we (metaphorically) stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Black and LGBTQIA2S+ slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But 160 years later, I see no changes. All I see is racist faces. Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races. The only time we chill is when we kill each other. It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other. One hundred and sixty years later, the Person of Color is still languished in the corners of American society and finds herself in exile in her own land. And so I have written you today to dramatize a shameful condition.

I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of Harvard first. Harvard needs a full-time President and a full-time Corporation, particularly at this moment of extraordinary challenge and frightening personal attacks fueled by racial animus.

To continue to fight—on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets, whatever the cost may be—for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Corporation in a period when our entire focus should be on upholding scholarly rigor and confronting hate in all its forms.

Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at 1:00 p.m. today.

When I came to power in 2023 my road was clearly mapped out. It had been defined in a struggle, which had put me under an obligation to the Harvard people. The social part of this program meant unifying the Harvard people, overcoming all class and race prejudices, and if necessary, breaking any opposition to this unity. Economically, it meant building a National Harvard economy which appreciated the importance of private initiative, but subordinated the entire economic life to the common interest.

It was the same in foreign politics. My program was to do away with Versailles. People all over the world should not pretend to be simpletons and act as if I had only discovered this program in 1933, or 1935, or 1937. These gentlemen should only have read what I wrote about myself a thousand times instead of listening to stupid emigre trash. No human being can have stated and written down as often as I what she wanted, and I wrote it again and again: "Away with Versailles!"

As we welcome a new year and a new semester, I hope we can all look forward to brighter days. Sad as I am to be sending this message, my hopes for Harvard remain undimmed. I'm not talking about blind optimism here. I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores. The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for her too.

When my brief presidency is remembered, I hope it will be seen as a moment of reawakening to the importance of striving to find our common humanity—and of not allowing rancor and vituperation to undermine the vital process of education. I promise to never give you up, to never let you down, to never run around and desert you. To never make you cry, never say goodbye, or tell a lie and hurt you. After my picture fades, and darkness has turned to gray, watching through windows, you're wondering if I'm okay. If you're lost you can look and you will find me, time after time.


Claudine Gay



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