Speed Reads

race in america

Here's what led to the Mizzou student protests and the president's resignation

University of Missouri system president Tim Wolfe resigned Monday amid growing protests that he didn't adequately address a series of race-related incidents on campus. In recent days, the protests gained support from more than 30 football players, the student government, and a group of faculty members that had called for a walkout. Students, professors, and alumni say the recent protests are part of a much longer history of systemic racism at Mizzou:

Many black students have stories about being called the n-word by their white peers and other instances of racial discrimination inside and outside of the classroom, The Los Angeles Times reports. Junior Andrea Fulgiam told the Times that a professor once told her she was only attending Mizzou due to the university's affirmative action policy.

It was the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, that motivated campus activists to take action, according to Ayanna Poole, a founding member of the black student activist group Concerned Student 1950 (named for the year the school first admitted black students), which has spearheaded the calls for Wolfe's removal. The Ferguson shooting sparked waves of protests, which some Mizzou students drove two hours to attend in Ferguson. The student government's letter Monday specifically noted Ferguson as an issue the university was "silent" on.

The Missourian, a student newspaper, outlined a "key escalation" of racial tension in recent months. In September and October, black students garnered attention for publicly describing different incidents of race-related harassment on campus. The movement started gaining ground quickly:

  • Oct. 10: Concerned Student 1950 protests the homecoming parade by blocking Wolfe's car. Ten days later, they issued a list of demands, which included a call for the president's removal. A meeting between the activists and Wolfe didn't go anywhere.
  • Nov 2: Graduate student Jonathan Butler begins a hunger strike: "Tim Wolfe is removed from office or my internal organs fail and my life is lost," he wrote in a letter to Mizzou system directors.
  • Nov. 6: Wolfe apologizes for not acknowledging protesters during the parade and vows to help combat racism on campus.
  • Nov. 7: More than 30 members of the football team announce their boycott of all games and practices until Wolfe leaves office, with their coaching staff and teammates later expressing their support.
  • Nov. 8: Gov. Jay Nixon (D) calls on the university to address race-related concerns.
  • Nov. 9: Wolfe resigns at an emergency meeting of the school's Board of Curators.

"Use my resignation to heal and start talking again," Wolfe said.

Head over to the Missourian for the full timeline of campus protests.