There was no football practice at the University of Missouri on Sunday, but the school’s training grounds were far from empty.
Mizzou’s black players had announced a strike the day before—joining scores of student activists demanding the ouster of university president Timothy Wolfe over his alleged failure to stem a wave of racism at the predominantly white school. Of the 35,000 students at Mizzou, 77 percent are white and 7 percent are black, school stats show, while 58 of the football team’s 84 scholarship football players are black.
Instead of putting on helmets, the team posed for a group photo, arm in arm, inside an athletics facility.
“The Mizzou Family stands as one,” head coach Gary Pinkel tweeted Sunday, just after the squad’s strike made national news. “We are united. We are behind our players.”
Faculty staff announced a few hours later that they would also stage a walk out in support of the football team.
Mizzou players have vowed not to play until Wolfe, who has been the school’s president since 2012, is removed…
The gambit comes amid months of simmering racial tensions at the Columbia, Missouri, campus. Minority students say they’ve been targeted with continuing slurs and harassment—and that the response from the predominantly white university has been tepid.
Last month, a swastika scribbled in human feces was found in the restroom of Gateway Hall, a dorm offering gender-neutral suites and bathrooms that is supposed to be a “‘gateway’ for the future of inclusive living,’” the Residence Halls Association president said….
The school’s racial strife made national headlines in September, when student body president Payton Head’s response to a racist attack went viral.
“Last night as I walking through campus, some guys riding on the back of a pickup truck decided that it would be okay to continuously scream NIGGER at me,” Head wrote on Sept. 12. “I really just want to know why my simple existence is such a threat to society. For those of you who wonder why I’m always talking about the importance of inclusion and respect, it’s because I’ve experienced moments like this multiple times at THIS university, making me not feel included here.
“Many of you are so privileged that you’ll never know what it feels like to be a hijab-wearing Muslim woman and be called a terrorist or a towel head,” Head continued. “You don’t have to think about being transgender and worrying about finding a restroom where you can go and not be targeted for violence…
“If you see violence like this and don’t say anything, you, yes YOU, are a part of the problem,” he said.
The shocking, hateful episodes on campus didn’t end there.
On Oct. 5, an inebriated white male student allegedly mounted the stage of a Legion of Black Collegians homecoming royalty court rehearsal and began spouting the N-word. The student was “moved from campus,” the Columbia Tribune reported.
Black student activists also say they faced harassment on Oct. 10, when they peacefully blocked the homecoming parade. They surrounded Wolfe’s car, but he refused to speak with them. Instead, the protesters claim, Wolfe’s vehicle hit one of their members.
Last week Friday, two female students said a drunken white man hurled a racial slur at them on a campus walkway. As a group of “four young Caucasian men” passed the women, one shouted, “You’re a n—-r!”
“We walk around this campus knowing that on any given day, there will be another racial issue,” sophomore Alexis Ditaway tweeted of the incident. “We go to classes with our white peers knowing that not only will they never understand our struggles, but many of them will refuse to try. We go to a university where the only place many of us feel comfortable is in a Black Studies class.”…