Harvard to Rescind Harvey Weinstein's Du Bois Medal

Harvery Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein receives the W.E.B. Du Bois medal in 2014.
UPDATED: September 18, 2017 at 11:25 p.m.

Harvard will rescind the 2014 W.E.B Du Bois medal awarded to Harvey Weinstein, a movie executive whom more than 40 women have recently accused of sexual harassment and abuse.

The Executive Committee of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, a group of five professors that unanimously voted to award Weinstein the medal three years ago, voted Tuesday night to rescind the honor in the wake of the reporting detailing Weinstein’s behavior, according to Hutchins Center Executive Director Abby Wolf.

“We have voted unanimously to rescind the Du Bois Medal awarded to Mr. Weinstein in 2014. We stand with the women who have courageously come forward to fight for themselves and indeed for all of those who have experienced similar abuse,” the group wrote in a statement.

The Du Bois medal is Harvard’s highest honor for contributions to African and African-American culture. Previous winners include Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad Ali, and Maya Angelou.

More than 40 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment since the New York Times reported in early October that Weinstein had reached a series of settlements with women who said he sexually harassed them over the course of several decades.

Over the course of his influential career as a film producer, Weinstein made dozens of films, including “Pulp Fiction,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and “Life is Beautiful.”

Harvard joins several institutions that have cut ties with Weinstein since the New York Times reported the accusations. Weinstein was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and forced out of his own firm, the Weinstein Company. French President Emmanuel Macron said he would look into stripping Weinstein of his Legion of Honour award, France’s highest civilian award.

The five members of the Executive Committee—director Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Lawrence D. Bobo, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, William Julius Wilson, and Emmanuel Akyeampong—could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

In the aftermath of the accusations being leveled at Weinstein, several institutions and political figures that accepted donations from Weinstein have been pressured to retroactively reject the money. Several politicians have said they would give Weinstein’s money to charity.

While Weinstein has never donated to Harvard, he did have financial ties to Harvard’s American Repertory Theater through his role as producer of the musical “Finding Neverland.” In an agreement with the A.R.T., Weinstein agreed to provide funding to develop the production.

According to the New York Times, Weinstein chaired a 2015 gala event in Cannes for the non-profit AIDS organization amfAR, but the auction had one stipulation: $600,000 of the money raised would go to the A.R.T. The A.R.T. had agreed to reimburse Weinstein and others if they arranged for third-party donations by June 1, 2015, according to the Huffington Post.

An A.R.T. spokesperson confirmed that the Institute received $600,000 in 2015 through an amfAR event, and that “proceeds from some auction items were earmarked for the A.R.T.”

“It is standard practice to not disclose the specific terms of agreements,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

—Staff writer Graham W. Bishai can be reached at graham.bishai@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @GrahamBishai.

—Staff writer Leah S. Yared can be reached at leah.yared@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @LeahYared.

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