On the same weekend that the nation celebrated a milestone in civil rights history with a historic march across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity chapter at the University of Oklahoma was shut down over a racist incident captured on video.
The clip, which was recorded at an unspecified time, shows reported members of the fraternity chanting the phrase, "There will never be a n----r SAE" in a song that also has a reference to lynching.
According to Tulsa World, SAE's national president addressed the incident in a statement on Sunday night. "SAE is a diverse organization, and we have zero tolerance for racism or any bad behavior," said Brad Cohen.
"When we learned about this incident, I called an immediate board meeting, and we determined with no mental reservation whatsoever that this chapter needed to be closed immediately."
Cohen said all SAE members at the Oklahoma chapter have been suspended and the members who appear responsible for the incident may have their membership privileges permanently revoked. OU officials are investigating the incident and said if the reports are true "the chapter will no longer remain on campus."
A self-described alliance of black OU students calling themselves Unheard, claimed to have sent OU President David Boren the clip and have begun a protest movement in response to the controversy. In a statement, Unheard called the video "offensive, disrespectful and unacceptable... We aim to share light that WE DO NOT LIVE IN A POST RACIAL AMERICA."
The statement made reference to Selma and vowed "let this press statement serve as a notice that we will not accept this." A march was planned for 7:30 a.m. on Monday (March 9) in which students were encouraged to wear all black.