"Timothy McNair is a graduate student of opera at Northwestern University’s famed Bienen School of Music. McNair is at the school on a full scholarship, but the 25-year-old is standing up to his school after his professor, Donald Nally, gave him an assignment to perform a song created by a racist American poet named Walt Whitman. McNair asked his instructor if he could be assigned to perform the work of other artists but Nally denied him the opportunity and told him if he didn’t turn in all of his completed work by Friday, May 17th he’d receive a failing grade. McNair refused.
“Certainly I do not deserve to fail this class. I have a 3.7 GPA. I’m an officer on three committees of this university. So what is deserving for me? Is to be able to perform two pieces and have the third piece removed because of the insensitivity,” McNair told Chicago’s WGN news station. Although the piece McNair is instructed to perform does not contain any blatant racism, McNair believes it is still offensive that he was asked to complete the works of a devout racist. “We know (he) was historically racist. He’s called African Americans ‘baboons’ and was for oppressing voting rights,” McNair said of Whitman. "