Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Harvard group hosted ‘anti-Semitic’ speaker

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FIRST ON FOX: President Biden’s nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was part of a Harvard University student group that hosted a speaker with a history of anti-Semitic remarks, Fox News Digital has learned. 

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was a member of the Black Students Association (BSA) her senior year at Harvard, according to her yearbook, when the Harvard BSA invited Leonard Jeffries, the controversial then-City University of New York professor of Black studies and Black studies department head, to speak.

Jeffries — the uncle of House Democratic Caucus chairman Hakeem Jeffries of New York — has been heavily criticized for his past anti-Semitic remarks, and the 1992 Harvard speaking engagement drew robust campus protests.


Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is a U.S. Circuit Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, poses for a portrait, Friday, Feb., 18, 2022, at the court in Washington.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Harvard University chapters of Jewish advocacy group Hillel, the Gay-Straight Alliance, and College Democrats themselves protested the BSA’s speaking event featuring Jeffries, according to a Feb. 4, 1992 article in the Harvard Crimson reviewed by Fox News. 

The day before the Crimson article, student Jessica Yellin — who went on to become a chief White House correspondent at CNN — called on the BSA to take back their invitation, warning that it would offer “a Harvard podium to an avowed anti-Semite” whose “teachings are laced with vicious attacks on Jews and distorted interpretations of history.”

Professors on campus torched Jeffries’ speech after it was given, with government professor Martin Kilson calling on “black students at Harvard and elsewhere” to “stand up against Jeffries’ kind of moral rot” in a Feb. 5 Crimson piece.

The Crimson reported on Feb. 6 that Jeffries denied he was an anti-Semite and claimed that Black people valued peace and equality more than the “people of the ice” – his term for White people – do. 

Jeffries had reportedly been asked by a student during his speech if he realized that his “Pyramid Analysis” system was similar to the one used by Adolf Hitler, to which Jeffries replied, “Adolf Hitler was a problem to the Europeans.”


“Adolf Hitler is not my problem,” Jeffries continued.

Conversely, members of the Harvard BSA applauded Jeffries’ speech, according to a Feb. 7 Crimson article.

Jackson’s yearbook page for her senior year listed her as a member of the BSA the year that Jeffries spoke at Harvard. It’s not clear whether she attended the speech. There is no public record of her speaking out against Jeffries’ invitation at the time. 

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) released a report in 1991 – on Jeffries “and the Anti-Semitic Branch of the Afrocentrism Movement,” highlighting several of the now-former CUNY professor’s comments on Jews, as well as his controversial Afrocentrist historical claims.

The report, released the year before Jeffries spoke at Harvard, said that he “preaches Jew-hatred like a religion.” The report noted that Jeffries organized a 1990 conference for Black teachers that featured anti-Semitic rhetoric and reading materials. 

According to the report, Jeffries also claimed that Jesus, Moses, and Buddha were all Black. The report noted that “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the anti-Semitic Czarist forgery that alleges a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, and which fueled many pogroms, was sold at the conference.” 

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Joe Biden announced Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Cross Hall of the White House, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, in Washington. Vice President Kamala Harris listens at right. 

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Joe Biden announced Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Cross Hall of the White House, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, in Washington. Vice President Kamala Harris listens at right. 
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

In a 1991 speech, Jeffries reportedly claimed the portrayal of Black people in movies was “a conspiracy, planned and plotted and programmed out of Hollywood, where people called Greenberg and Weisberg and Trigliani and what not.”   

In the same speech, Jeffries blamed Jewish people as being principally responsible for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, according to the AJC report. 

The report also noted Jeffries’ racially-charged rhetoric “teaching that blacks are racially superior to whites” and his references to Black people as “sun people” due to “more melanin in their skin than whites, whom he calls ‘ice people.’”

Anti-Semitism watchdogs, including the left-leaning group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) dubbed Jeffries an “anti-Semitic” speaker in a report covering anti-Semitism on college campuses.


“Leonard Jeffries, the former head of the Black Studies Department at the City College of CUNY, and a professor there since 1972, has espoused racist and anti-Semitic views and theories since at least the early 1980s, when his comments – made while he was department head – began to attract public attention,” the ADL wrote.

“In the spring of 1988, a white student wrote an account in the student newspaper of his experiences in Jeffries’ class, Black Studies 101,” the ADL, that continued. “The student recounted numerous times when Jeffries constructed large parts of his class around anti-white arguments.”

The ADL also noted the 1990 New York Times article which “reported that in an April 1990 class on African heritage, Jeffries said that ‘rich Jews who financed the development of Europe also financed the slave trade,’ and that ‘the Jewish Holocaust is raised as the only Holocaust.’”

“On March 23, 1992, CUNY’s Board of Trustees voted to remove Jeffries as head of the department, replacing him with Dr. Edmund W. Gordon, formerly chairman of the African-American Studies Department at Yale University,” the ADL wrote.

Jeffries challenged the removal in court, claiming that CUNY violated his First Amendment rights. The court found in favor of Jeffries, who was reinstated to his chair.

Jeffries’ rhetoric about Jewish people continued after his Harvard appearance as well. In 1994, he sparked backlash after comparing Jewish people to “skunks” who “stunk up everything.” 

Biden nominated Jackson earlier this year to the Supreme Court bench after Breyer announced he would retire, fulfilling the president’s promise to choose a Black woman for the court. 


Jackson will face the Senate hot seat on March 21 for her confirmation hearing

Neither the White House nor Jeffries responded to Fox News Digital’s request for comment by press time. 

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