Community College President Cancels Ceremony Over Keynote Speaker’s Alleged Anti-Semitism


Carlos Cortez
Chancellor Carlos O. Cortez. Photo SDCCD

Carlos O. Cortez, the new chancellor of the San Diego Community College District on Monday announced the cancellation of its investiture ceremony following criticism from the keynote speaker.

The free public event with a keynote address by the author Alice Walker was to be held on May 31 at Petco Park.

Walker, who received the Pulitizer Prize in 1983 for his acclaimed novel “The purple colorhas been accused of taking anti-Semitic positions in recent years.

“Over the past few weeks, concerns have been raised about the political beliefs and writings of inaugural keynote speaker Alice Walker. At the same time, others have expressed support for Ms Walker,” said Cortez in a statement.

“As a district that celebrates inclusion, we believe the best way forward would be to cancel the event altogether. I apologize for any pain caused to any member of our community. May will not take place,” he said.

In 2018 Walker said in an interview with the New York Times that she is a fan of the conspiracy theorist David Ike whose writings have anti-Semitic themes. His own recent poem”To study the Talmudhas been criticized as anti-Semitic. Walker, whose first husband was Jewish, denies being anti-Semitic.

Last September, the union representing teachers in the district approved a resolution condemning Israel and questioning the Jewish state’s right to exist. Union leaders denied that the resolution was anti-Semitic.

The University District of San Diego is one of the largest in California with 100,000 students in City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges and the district’s continuing education program.

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