Athletes of colour on the University of Missouri football team sent a strong message to the school on Saturday night, declaring that they will not play football again for the school until Tim Wolfe, the university’s president, resigns or is forced out.
The move comes after a series racist incidents on the campus and what many feel has been a school that has been slow to respond to those incidents.
One graduate student at Missouri has started a hunger strike and has vowed to not stop until Wolfe is out as president.
On Saturday night, the athletes of colour on the football team issued this statement in support of the Concerned Student 1950, a movement named in reference to the year the first African-American student was admitted to the university:
“The athletes of colour on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,” the caption read. “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!!!!!”
On Sunday, Gary Pinkel, the head football coach, issued a statement supporting the protest by the players and even upped the ante.
The message, delivered on Twitter, says “The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players.” The tweet includes the Concerned Student 1950 hashtag and a photo of the entire team with many standing with their arms interlocked.
It is unclear if the message means that the entire team will now cease football activities, although that message can certainly be inferred. It is also possible the team is just expressing support for the 30 players who appeared in the original photo vowing not to play.
Several racist incidents have occurred on the campus this semester, according to Michael E. Miller of the Washington Post. Those include racist taunts directed at the student association president, an African-American, as he walked home. According to the report, it took the school nearly a week to respond to the incident.
As the incidents escalated, Jonathan L. Butler, the graduate student now on a hunger strike, organised a protest during the school’s homecoming parade in early October, blocking the car carrying the school president.
According to Butler, after already being stopped, the car moved back and forth and bumped one of the protestors. This came towards the end of the 10-minute protest, as seen on video of the incident.
“Tim Wolfe allowed his driver to rev his engine,” Butler said. “By revving his engine and going back and forth, he ended up bumping one of us twice.”
Nearly a month after the homecoming parade, Wolfe released a statement apologizing for incident.
“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 behaviour seemed like I did not care. That was not my intention. I was caught off guard in that moment. Nonetheless, had I gotten out of the car to acknowledge the students and talk with them perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Students were further angered when video of Wolfe surfaced in which he explains what he believes “systematic oppression” is.
“Systematic oppression is because you don’t believe that you have an equal opportunity of success,” Wolf is heard saying in the video.
— QianaJade (@Qiana_Jade) November 7, 2015
It is unclear at this point if Missouri’s game on Saturday against Brigham Young University will be played as scheduled.
We have reached out to the school for comment.
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