Oct. 11, 2007 -- Madonna Constantine, the Columbia University professor who found a noose on her office door Tuesday morning, said she felt not only angry but embarrassed when she saw the noose.
"I know I don't really have a reason to be embarrassed about it because this was the work of someone who, you know, is not a secure person at some level, but it felt as though it was directed toward me," Constantine said in an exclusive interview today on "Good Morning America."
"It felt very personal and very degrading," she said.
New York police are treating the incident as a hate crime. They are also investigating whether the noose, first discovered by one of Constantine's colleagues, may have been placed by an angry student or another faculty member as part of an ongoing dispute with Constantine.
Constantine is involved in a lawsuit with another professor at the college, according to court records.
Message for Outspoken Professor?
Constantine, a respected professor at Columbia University Teacher's College, has been outspoken on matters of race, gender and multiculturalism.
The symbolism behind the noose could not be clearer, she said today.
"And I think it … certainly served to reinforce the issue that I'm African-American and I'm very proud of that, and that there's a history of oppression and racism against African-Americans in this country," Constantine said.
This incident is the latest in a growing number of noose incidents in the United States, since the one that punctuated the racially charged controversy in Jena, La.
Constantine, who grew up in Louisiana, said that living in a multicultural society takes work.
"We have to work to get along and understand that our perspective or ideology isn't the only way of thinking or being," she said.
Constantine had harsh words for the perpetrator of the crime at a campus rally Wednesday, saying hanging the noose "reeks of cowardice and fear," and added, "I would like the perpetrator to know I will not be silenced."
The professor praised the campus community for its quick reaction and support.
"The community has been awesome," Constantine said. "[They] have all pulled together, joined together and allowed this really very heinous incident to bring us closer in many respects. That kind of incident could have the affect of polarizing people, but it has not. We have stood together. We've stood strong. I'm really proud of our community."