Racial tensions at the University of Missouri hit a boiling point Monday as President Tim Wolfe stepped down, amid a strike by the school’s football team and faculty threatening to join them.
A spate of incidents, including African-American students being targeted with racial epithets on campus, led to what many felt was a lacklustre response by the school’s administration.
Jonathan Butler, a 25-year-old graduate student in an educational leadership program, was the public face of the Concerned Student 1950 campaign that ultimately helped spur Wolfe’s resignation.
On October 24, Butler led a group of Concerned Student 1950 activists in a protest of the University of Missouri’s homecoming parade, blocking Wolfe’s convertible, as the Columbia Missourian reported.
After Wolfe refused to step down, Butler upped the ante by pledging to go on a hunger strike until he resigned.
In a letter to the University of Missouri’s board of curators, Butler wrote: “I will not consume any food or nutritional sustenance at the expense of my health until either Tim Wolfe is removed from office or my internal organs fail and my life is lost.”
At 9 a.m. Monday morning, after a full seven days of hunger strike, Butler got what he wanted.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Butler says that being in such close proximity to the events in Ferguson, Missouri galvanised his commitment to the black community.
“I had never seen that many black people mobilized in that way,” Butler said. “So, it really struck a chord with me, to really have a passion for inspiring and building up my black community.”
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