• Cornell
  • Anti-American
    Racial prejudice
    Racial prejudice
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Prof. Rickford has been accused of promoting racist ideology following his statements at a 2016 Black Lives Matter protest, in which he argued that the majority of white America is racist. Rickford divided white America into three segments. The largest group, he claimed, “will always be a segment of white America that is overtly, irredeemably racist.” The second, are those white Americans who “consider themselves enlightened… yet they aggressively protect their white privilege.” Lastly, Rickford held that “there is a sliver, a sliver of white America that hates white supremacy and hates capitalism.”[1]

Rickford denounced capitalism as an “anti-human system,” calling on those in attendance to create a “grass-roots, anti-racist system to defeat capitalism altogether.” He similarly denounced the American political parties, saying “to hell with the Republican party and to hell with the goddamn Democratic party.” He argued against the notion of a female U.S. President, stating that, “Hillary Clinton is a warmongering imperialist and a lapdog of the corporate elite. We don’t need a woman CEO of capitalism. Hell, you had a black CEO of capitalism – what did that get you?”[2]

Rickford also accused the U.S. political establishment of complicity in police brutality and shootings, emphasizing that “we charge genocide,” and that “the fraternal order of police is a terrorist organization,” that requires radical action to dismantle.[3]

Rickford was also the source of controversy when, at a 2014 meeting of campus activists at Dartmouth, he claimed that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is “a tool of the far-right imperialists to appease people,” and argued that it should be a day of protest.[4]

Rickford also promotes anti-Israel ideology. In his book “Beyond Boundaries,” he claims that the U.S. relationship with Israel caused the September 11th terror attacks. He wrote that U.S. media attempted to distort the facts, “by insisting that Osama Bin Laden group’s murderous assaults had nothing to do with Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Nobody else in the world, with the possible exception of Israelis, really believes that.”[5] Rickford was also accused of the “hijacking of other ‘social justice’” causes when he prompted a “Free Palestine” chant at a racial violence protest at Cornell in October 2017. Rickford defended his actions by arguing that “the colonial occupation of Palestine remains one of the world’s most visible campaigns of white supremacist violence,” and that “all the great structures of U.S. violence – mass incarceration, militarism, police terror, racism, etc – converge in the occupation of Palestine.”[6]

[1] Crowe, J. (July 13, 2016). Cornell Prof: Only ‘Sliver’ of White Working to Fight Racism. Newsmax. Retrieved from https://www.newsmax.com/US/white-americans-african-americans-cornell-russell-rickford/2016/07/13/id/738490/

[2] Richardson, B. (July 13, 2016). Cornell Professor: Majority of white people are ‘racist’. The Washington Times. Retrieved from https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jul/13/cornell-professor-majority-white-people-are-racist/

[3] Hanna, C. (Jul9, 2016). Hundreds demand during Ithaca rally against police brutality: “Say his name… Say Her name!” The Ithaca Voice. Retrieved from https://ithacavoice.com/2016/07/hundreds-demand-ithaca-rally-police-brutality-say-name-say-name/

[4] Soave, R. (Jan. 20, 2014). Dartmouth professor: MLK Day is a far-right imperialist holiday. Daily Caller. Retrieved from http://dailycaller.com/2014/01/20/dartmouth-professor-mlk-day-is-a-far-right-imperialist-holiday/

[5] Rickford, R., Marable, M. (2011). Beyond Boundaries. Routledge: p. 276.

[6] Yoon, J. (Oct. 5, 2017). Professor Has No Regrets After Controversial Chant. The Cornell Daily Sun. retrieved from http://cornellsun.com/2017/10/05/professor-has-no-regrets-after-controversial-chant/

Associated Organizations:

Black Lives Matter (BLM); Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS); Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)

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Departmental Contact

Sandra Elaine Greene, History Department Chair

Contact email



  • We Are an African People: Indepndant Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination (2016)
  • Black Lives Matter: Towards a Modern Practice of Mass Struggle (2015)

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