Ex-civil rights leader blasts Smith College for 'perverting' MLK legacy after meritless racism charge

Bob Woodson decries 'atmosphere of fear and intimidation' across America on 'The Story'

Former civil rights leader Bob Woodson slammed Smith College on "The Story"  Tuesday after White service workers were forced to undergo anti-racism training despite an investigation into a bias claim turning up no evidence.

In 2018, student Oumou Kanoute, who is Black, was approached by a janitor and a police officer while eating in a closed dorm lounge and asked what she was doing there.

At the time, the local ACLU characterized the encounter as Kanoute being questioned for the crime of "eating while Black." Kanoute accused the pair of campus employees of racially profiling her and posted pictures on social media accusing them of being racist. The janitor she named wasn't working that day.

Smith College, however, still forced the pair to undergo anti-bias training and apologize to Kanoute. Further investigation found them to be wrongly accused.

Woodson, founder of the pro-American organization 1776 Unites -- meant as a counter to the New York Times' 1619 Project, said that the controversy sullies the intention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's message

"We didn't march so Americans of any race could be presumed guilty and punished for false accusations, while the elite institution that employed them cowered. We didn't march so privileged Blacks could abuse working class Whites based on lived experience," Woodson and other Civil Rights leaders wrote in a letter to Smith College President Kathleen McCartney.

Woodson told "The Story" that King once described racism as malevolent not because "it is visited upon Blacks by Whites -- it's bad because it's evil."

"We must unite to confront the evil. What we're witnessing at Smith is that the school stereotyped -- they took the actions of a few Whites and assumed this was generalized to the whole population and then punished them.

"So, suppose in a group of Blacks, one was accused of stealing and then the school searched every Black [person] and only after the fact found that this wasn't true, and said 'Well, this is subconscious and we're going to make you go through training.'"


Woodson called on McCartney and those involved to apologize to the officer and janitor involved, as well as compensate them for their experience.

"We're against the perversion of the civil rights legacy, [it's] being perverted here. So we're pushing back..."

"There's a whole atmosphere of fear and intimidation," he added. "That shouldn't exist today in our society. It's tearing the fabric of this community apart."