It's been a tense fall from a racial perspective at the University of Missouri, beginning with racial slurs directed at MSA president Payton Head and continuing with a Homecoming protest.
Though members of various student groups have been meeting with university president Tim Wolfe and chancellor R. Bowen Loftin (himself under fire from faculty for a host of different reasons), the Concerned Student 1950 group has been upping the ante regarding protests and stakes. So have various graduate student groups. On Monday morning, student Jonathan Butler announced that he would go on hunger strike until Wolfe resigned or was removed from office.
This evening, Concerned Student 1950 grew a lot more visible and, in theory, powerful.
We're black. Black is powerful. Our struggle may look different, but we are all #ConcernedStudent1950 pic.twitter.com/obCjSWCFVY— HeMadeAKing (@1Sherrils_2MIZZ) November 8, 2015
The statement in the above tweet:
The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe "Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere"
We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students' experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!
58 of MU's 84 scholarship players are African-American. I count about 30 in the picture.— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) November 8, 2015
The players in the picture I can identify are Charles Harris, Ish Witter, Finis Stribling, Russell Hansbrough, J'Mon Moore, Anthony Sherrils— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) November 8, 2015
Aarion Penton, Trevon Walters, Thomas Wilson, Jason Reese, Nate Brown, Grant Jones, Chase Abbington, Keyon Dilosa, Ian Simon Kevin Pendleton— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) November 8, 2015
Cam Hilton, Clarence Green, Kentrell Brothers, Marvin Zanders, Spencer Williams, DeSean Blair, Rickey Hatley, John Gibson. Could be more.— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) November 8, 2015
This is JUST not about race. It's about Grad students getting benefits and unity within the athletes and community#ConcernedStudent1950 #GGM— Clarence Champ Green (@clgreen93mu) November 8, 2015
@EdgeofSports has nothing to do with our coaches. Our coaches are 100% behind us. Including the white ones— John Gibson III (@thatgibsonkid) November 8, 2015
Mizzou Football is United. No racial division amongst US.— Charles Harris (@AO1_Charles) November 8, 2015
Not about "us"(sports) or me. it's about loving one human being and helping them with their concerns bro! #weAreONE https://t.co/rsMhZHZwjI— Clarence Champ Green (@clgreen93mu) November 8, 2015
On Friday, Wolfe admitted that his response (or lack thereof) to date, and to the Homecoming protest in particular, had been miscalculated.
Wolfe continued: "I regret my reaction at the MU homecoming parade when the ConcernedStudent1950 group approached my car. I am sorry, and my apology is long overdue. My behavior seemed like I did not care. That was not my intention. I was caught off guard in that moment."
Racial tension has long been an issue in the state of Missouri, and it appears it's about to become an even more public issue. That can be a good thing. At least ... I hope this becomes a good thing whether Wolfe resigns or not. And since similar tension exists throughout the country, I hope that Mizzou becomes a force for positivity. We'll figure out the odds of that in the coming days.
And whether or not you agree with the protest, I feel the need to remind you of this: The Internet is forever. It will remember what you say publicly in reaction to this. Please make sure you think before you type. (And if you have a "yuk yuk, they quit playing several games ago" joke to make, keep it to yourself. This is more serious than game outcomes.) Don't be one of these people:
These are students @Mizzou. This is how they feel about their peers. pic.twitter.com/5q7KuGRzjZ— Payton Head (@MSAPresident) November 5, 2015
UPDATE: The athletic department has issued a statement:
From team spokesman regarding the #Mizzou football player protest. pic.twitter.com/h9PlABe565— Austin Kim (@AustinKKim) November 8, 2015
The department of athletics is aware of declarations made tonight by many of our student-athletes. We all must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackle these challenging issues and we support our student-athletes right to do so.