The University of Missouri has a despicable record of racism. After participating in the Ferguson protests that stirred Black Lives Matter, one student leader would take what he learned there and organize a nationally-praised strike against Missouri’s University System.
That student was Jonathan Butler.
Disturbed by the administration’s lackluster response to on-campus racism, Butler went on a hunger strike in 2015 until the school’s president stepped down.
Butler shared with CNN, “I felt unsafe since the moment I stepped on this campus ... I had someone write the n-word on my wall. I’ve been, physically, in altercations with white [men] on campus.” And studies show how damaging racism can be to our education.
As one study details, “Weathering the cumulative effects of living in a society characterized by white dominance and privilege produces ... physical and mental wear-and-tear that contributes to a host of psychological and physical ailments.” For Black students attending predominantly white institutions, these ailments interfere with learning.
After his hunger strike gained nationwide attention - and amassed even more support - the school’s president resigned, a bright example of the change that can happen when we take drastic action. But, as Butler noted, this should have never happened.