Corey Menafee, a Black New Haven resident, worked as a dishwasher at this college, which was previously called Calhoun College. Menafee grew up in New Haven and has two children. He graduated from Virginia Union University in 2001 with a degree in mass communication, before starting his job at Yale.
In 2016, inside this college he saw a stained glass window depicting two enslaved African Americans working outside in what looked like a cotton field. He said he was tired of looking at the “racist, very degrading” image. So, Corey Menafee grabbed a broom and smashed the stained glass window, knocking it down from where it was hanging and breaking the glass image. He was arrested and charged with a first degree felony charge of criminal mischief, and he lost his job at Yale. A large community came out in support of Menafee, and he was able to get his job back, and the charges against him were dropped.
Calhoun College had been named after former Vice President, John C. Calhoun, who was an advocate of slavery. Yale students and New Haven community members had been protesting the name of the college for many years, calling it racist. Menafee’s actions helped bring this campaign to a larger audience. In 2017, about a year after Menafee broke the stained glass window, Yale finally changed the name to Grace Hopper College.
After hearing about just a handful of historic New Haveners, who else might Yale have considered to be the namesake of this college?