MSU removes display of dolls depicting black leaders hanging from tree

Michigan State University removed an ornament display of African-American leaders hanging from a tree at the Wharton Center gift shop, shown on Jan. 30.

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Michigan State University removed an ornament display of African-American leaders hanging from a tree at the Wharton Center gift shop, shown on Jan. 30.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A gift shop in a performing arts center on Michigan State University’s campus removed a display of dolls depicting black historical figures hanging from a rack after numerous people complained on social media.

MSU officials became aware of the “inappropriate and insensitive” display in the gift shop of The Wharton Center for Performing Arts last week and immediately removed it, according to a statement from MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant.

It used a rack resembling a tree to hang felt ornaments resembling Michelle Obama, Barack Obama and Prince.  

“Regardless of the intent of the display, its impact cannot be ignored — people were hurt and offended,” Guerrant wrote. “We sincerely apologize to our community members and have immediately removed the display. Additionally, after the Wharton Center reported the incident, it agreed to provide employees and volunteers with racial bias training that focuses on the impact and understanding of intentional and unintentional racial bias. 

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