Something really incredible happened at the University of Missouri today. After months of protests, including a hunger strike by a black graduate student named Jonathan Butler and a refusal to play by black players on the Mizzou football team, university President Tim Wolfe stepped down. This comes after students called for his resignation due to his inaction on various incidents of racism on the campus since he became president in 2012.
This is an extraordinary moment for Missouri students and students across all campuses who are underrepresented and marginalized.
Here is the real face of the University of Missouri football team. He is a undersized walk on that faced real diversity and hardship to make the team. Now he is the stud RB running 72 yards to make the touch down. Hard work, determination and putting his team before his own selfish and self righteous interests. Tyler Hunt is a class act!
The strike of the Missouri Tiger college football team does more than raise the visibility of the struggle against racism. It has the very real potential of actually forcing the removal of Tim Wolfe, University of Missouri President, from his position and getting someone in the seat of authority capable of addressing this poisonous campus climate. That’s because the Missouri football players—like all big time college football players—hold a deep social power. The student body is just 7% black, yet 58 of the school’s 84 scholarship football players are African American. There is no football team without black labor. That means there aren’t million dollar coaching salaries without black labor. There isn’t a nucleus of campus social life without black labor. There isn’t the weekly economic boon to Columbia, Missouri, bringing in millions in revenue to hotels, restaurants, and other assorted businesses without black labor. The power brokers of Columbia need these games to be played. Yet if the young black men and those willing to stand with them—and there are white teammates publicly standing with them—aren’t happy with the grind of unpaid labor on a campus openly hostile to black students, they can take it it all down, just by putting down their helmets, hanging up their spikes, and folding their arms.
Dave Zirin - Black Mizzou Football Players Are Going on Strike Over Campus Racism
There is no football team without black labor. That means there aren’t million dollar coaching salaries without black labor. There isn’t a nucleus of campus social life without black labor. There isn’t the weekly economic boon to Columbia, Missouri, bringing in millions in revenue to hotels, restaurants, and other assorted businesses without black labor. The power brokers of Columbia need these games to be played. Yet if the young black men and those willing to stand with them—and there are white teammates publicly standing with them—aren’t happy with the grind of unpaid labor on a campus openly hostile to black students, they can take it it all down, just by putting down their helmets, hanging up their spikes, and folding their arms.
“Black Mizzou Football Players Are Going on Strike Over Campus Racism: In a game changer that could bring down a university president, the Missouri football players are showing just how powerful their labor is.” By Dave Zirin
In an era where “religious liberty” is used as a justification for anti-gay legislation, Westboro instead speaks with a clear voice. And while their slogans and songs are patently offensive, their actions often end up inspiring others to be more tolerant.
Phelps inspired hundreds of counterprotests. After the horrific Newtown shootings, a group of bikers deployed to Connecticut to thwart the Westboro contingent. When Westboro showed up to protest openly gay University of Missouri football player Mike Sam, students there formed a massive human chain to show their support for their classmate. But what happens after those counterprotesters pose, tweet, pack up, and go home? A Westboro counterprotest, warm and fuzzy as it may feel, is about as potent as slapping a “support the troops” bumper magnet on your car and calling it a day. After all, it’s a hell of a lot easier to grapple with some crazies ripping up flags than it is to question your own church’s pastor.
Some have suggested picketing Phelps’ funeral, much as his church protested at the funerals of fallen soldiers and victims of mass atrocities. But protesting his funeral—regardless of how reviled or evil he may seem—would be improper. (Not to mention expensive: Who wants to fly to Kansas for a funeral?) Instead, cheer for the unity Phelps helped provoke, and the displays of goodwill and acceptance he helped foment. Share your Westboro experiences and your make-out selfies. But let Fred Phelps Sr. exit this life quietly as the lonely, bitter, hateful man he became.
If you’re truly bent on sticking it to Westboro’s fallen founder, focus instead on the mundane battles for LGBTQ equality taking place in church congregations and courthouses across the country. While these events may lack the spectacle that Phelps commanded, they will surely change more hearts and minds. What better way to commemorate the life of America’s most famous anti-gay bigot?
“I understand how big this is,” Sam told ESPN. “It’s a big deal. No one has done this before. And it’s kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be … I want to be a football player in the NFL.”
Black University of Missouri football players are striking until university president Tim Wolfe resigns after his poor handling of racist incidents on campus, including verbal assaults of several black students including the student body president.
42 of the 64 players on Missouri’s current depth chart are African-American. Several took to social media on Saturday night to address the protest, with one, cornerback John Gibson, saying: “[The decision] has nothing to do with our coaches. Our coaches are 100% behind us. Including the white ones.”
The University of Missouri’s President Resigned Over His Failure to Deal With Racial Tensions
At University of Missouri, the school’s football team went on strike, some professors were staging a walkout from their classes, and a graduate student had gone on a hunger strike—all demanding the resignation of president Tim Wolfe. Today, he resigned. Many students at the school, which is 75 percent white, say there is a climate of hostility toward Black students. Journalism professor Cynthia Frisby wrote in the the campus newspaper this week that in her 18 years at the school, “I have been called the n-word too many times to count.”
Students formed the group Concerned Students 1950 to push back against racism at the school—the group’s name refers to the year that the school first started admitting Black students. On Friday night, students confronted Wolfe outside of a fundraiser and asked him to define “systemic oppression.” In a video of the incident, he’s seen responding, “Systematic oppression is because you don’t believe that you have the equal opportunity for success—” before being cut off by a chorus of people upset with his answer.