On November 9th, 2015, the President of the University of Missouri, Tim Wolfe resigned from his position. A series of racial incidents on campus that weren’t recognized led African American students to peacefully protest around the United States. The effects of this racial hostility affect the ability for African American students to complete college. The University of Washington, along with hundreds of universities, stood in solidarity with the African American students at Mizzou. We protested through libraries, administrative buildings, and the streets so that the voices of African American students could be heard.
African Americans on the Mizzou campus have faced an abundant amount of racism since 1950, when the first African American students were admitted. These racial events seem all too familiar on the Missouri campus. More recently, a local club distributed wristbands that read “Hands up, pants up”. This was in response to the “hands up, don’t shoot” movement created for Mike Brown. In addition, a white male got on a stage during a drama class and yelled the ‘n’ word. Whilst protests continued on campus, the KKK reportedly threatened the lives of African Americans. These issues weren’t acknowledged, nor recognized by President Tim Wolfe. Acts of resistance by blacks came about on the campus. During a homecoming parade, protestors lined up in front of the presidents vehicle to voice there opinion. He reportedly laughed in the faces of black students. Also, African Americans on the Mizzou football team announced they would not be playing in any games until Wolfe resigned.
African Americans have a long history of protest. In 1964, the civil rights act was passed. What did this entail? This meant that segregation in public places discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color or religion ended. This occurred because of the success of the civil rights movement. Although the civil rights act meant that America would actually be free, there were still issues at predominantly white colleges. For example, Linda Warren was an African American student at the University of Memphis. During a summer quarter, she roomed with an openly racist white woman. Linda did not pay much attention to her but one afternoon, the white woman began an altercation with African Americans. The residential advisor did not take any further action and nothing was done about it.
On November 12th, 2015, I, Gosay Mohammed stood in solidarity with the University of Missouri. In the image attached, shot by photographer Betinna Hansen, I walked through Allen library with a sign that reads “Black Students Matter #ConcernedStudent1950.” This protest meant a lot to me. As an African American student at the University of Washington, I have faced adversity. From times that I have been suspected of cheating on exams because I did so well to not being able to find a partner in class because I was the only African American present. It is hard to explain but when you can visibly see all the colored students on campus come together with the common goal of eliminating the racism in these college institutions. I understand the struggle of unrecognized minority students not only at the University of Missouri, but also throughout the nation.
At the University of Washington campus we chanted, “Being black is not a crime”, “Black lives matter”, “Black students matter.” Betinna Hansen, the photographer of this image recognizes the struggle of African American students. It is unfortunate that African Americans are told to receive a college education but when we get into these Universities, we’re constantly told that we got into these schools because we are black. Then once we start schools, we already aren’t comfortable because the majority of students are Caucasian and it isn’t fair that students at Mizzou were threatened by the Ku Klux Klan, other white students and even put in situations that were often life threatening. “It isn’t fair that I have to be here fighting for basic rights that everyone should have, I should be studying for my midterm next week.” (Palca, University of Washington student, November 12,2015). The significance in actions taken like these are priceless. They can never lose value or significance because a race is pleading for basic rights. This isn’t something that we enjoy doing; this is something that we have to do.
African Americans have a long history of oppression, which led to protests. The University of Missouri, an institution built on the backs of African Americans began as a white institution in 1839. In 1865, Missouri created the separate but equal law under Jim Crow. This law legalized segregation throughout universities. Although some can argue that the civil rights act protected African Americans against discrimination, the sad truth is that it didn’t. Through the 1900’s, African Americans were deprived of basic rights. In 1938, Lionel Gaines, a student at the University of Missouri did not get accepted into the law school because he was black. He took it up to the Supreme Court and the judge ruled that University would either allow him into the Law school or build another black law school. A few months later, he left his apartment to pick up post stamps and he was never seen again. This event caused the students of the University of Missouri to protest.
In conclusion, racial hostility effects the ability to finish a college education. Although times may have changed, people haven’t. Racism is still well and alive. Protests like these show how powerful black voices can be are. These racist institutions have made it difficult for African Americans to focus on their studies. People fail to realize how hard our ancestors have fought for us to live a life of equality. Racist events that occur cannot be taken lightly. In efforts to try to get institutes such as the University of Missouri under control, resistance by the students, faculty and community members hope to seek equality between all people.
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