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Rev. Jesse Jackson Stands With UIC Law Students Calling For The Firing Of A Professor Accused Of Using Racial Slurs

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson stands along-side Chicago law students calling for a UIC professor to be fired over accusations of racism. That professor says he's done nothing wrong.

CBS 2's Jackie Kostek has details about the accusation.

Members of UIC's Black Law Association say this professor has used racial slurs to describe students. The professor says he's never used any racial slurs to describe students and never would and that all of this is likely a colossal misunderstanding.

"Students deserve an environment that is not hostile," Jackson said as students repeated.

Just two days after being hospitalized for falling during a D.C. protest, Rev. Jesse Jackson is standing alongside students from UIC's Black Law Student Association, calling for the firing of a law professor, who they say used racially insensitive language in the classroom. UIC moving to reinstate the professor after he was put on paid administrative leave last January.

"This is just a horrific misunderstanding and/or a real manipulation of the facts."

The professor at the center of the controversy, Jason Kilburn, says the issues stemmed from the wording of an exam question in December of 2020, involving a case of employment discrimination.

In the question, Kilburn used the redacted N and B words - the words fictitious managers had used to describe a fictitious plaintiff. In parentheses, "Profane expressions for African Americans and women." Ashley Shannon is the president of the Black Law Student Association. She says students were at first offended by the exam question but also what she says happened after.

"He showed discrimination repeatedly in the classroom by calling the students involved cockroaches, enemies, even during a class making fun of an African student's accent," Shannon said.

Several students suggested there was video evidence to support the claims. CBS 2 has requested video evidence from students and the university and has not received it. Professor Kilburn says that evidence would not exist because he has not used racial slurs to describe students.

"Never ever have I called a person a cockroach. If that word ever came out of my mouth somewhere, sometime, I have no idea why, when what the context was, if anyone can explain that to me, let's have a conversation about it. Let's not be calling immediately for my termination before we have any idea what the facts here are," Kilburn said.

"I couldn't imagine it would be okay for any institution to allow, even a tenured professor, to discriminate in the classroom. If the last two years taught us anything it is that black lives matter," Shannon said.

UIC did confirm Professor Kilburn is scheduled to teach two classes in the spring. UIC's office for access and equity has conducted an investigation. We've asked them for the findings of that investigation and have not heard back.

As for Jackson's health, when asked how he was feeling, he said he felt fantastic after he pumped his fist into the air.

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