MU Student Voices: "I Want Mizzou to be a Brighter Campus"
Over the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of focus on the experiences of black students on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia. Multiples protests and rallies were held to bring attention to MU’s poor response to racist incidents.
Last week, following the resignation of former UM system president Tim Wolfe and racist threats made on social media, a “We Are Not Afraid" march was held Wednesday night. Students gathered at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center and walked through campus to the Student Center – where they gathered in healing circles to share their thoughts and experiences.
KBIA spoke with a few students after the event ended, and these students shared what they are experiencing and what they want from their university.
One of the students, Landyn Johnson, is an MU freshman. She said because of the events of the past few months she has grown closer with the black community at MU.
“It was beautiful seeing everyone coming together and I'm just really grateful that I've gotten to grow closer with the black community here and with other allies, who come to Mizzou. I really got to immerse myself in Mizzou's culture and learn more about what my university stands for.”
Johnson said she grew up close to Ferguson, Missouri, which was the center of unrest following the fatal shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police last August. But, those events didn’t affect her as much because “I was just really more watching on TV like everyone else.”
But with what she has witnessed and experienced the past few weeks:
“[On] Thursday, we had a walkout and people just started joining in the movement,” Johnson said. “And I really knew 'Woah. This is bigger than me. This is bigger than the Original 11. This is going to be huge. This is going to make history.”
She added that she hopes to see more integration and more education shared between groups at Mizzou because “it’s a huge divide between whites and blacks.”
Eugene Marble III
Outside of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center, prior to the March, KBIA spoke with Eugene Marble III, who is a student at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. He said he came to Columbia to show his support for MU students.
“They need as much support as they can get because they don’t have a whole lot on campus,” Marble said. “So, we just wanted to come and show our support.”
He also said he hopes to see the students and faculty come together and talk about the issues at MU.
Alecia McLean is a junior at MU and didn’t intend to be a part of the healing circles in the Student Center. She was upstairs doing her homework when she heard chants from outside and downstairs.
“So I came down and I joined,” McLean said.
She said the coming together of the black community at MU is important because it gives them a safe space to talk about issues and their struggles, without fear of judgement.
“I see a lot of people that don’t understand the movement at all and don’t understand why we felt the need to do everything that we do or the list of demands. And it makes me upset because this is exactly what we are fighting about. This is like the whole purpose of the group is to combat racism at Mizzou,” McLean said. “I wish a lot more students would understand where we’re coming from and at least try to get educated on it before hearing what they just want to hear and making their own opinions.”
Ethan Phillips is a freshman at MU. He said he has been a part of something historic.
“It feels great to know that - not even my name, but just the presence in history,” Phillips said. “To know that I've been part of something as great as this is.”
When asked what he would like to see MU head in the future, he responded that he wants more diversity and wants to see “people be able to just love each other.”
“In a sense to where we're all family. We're all students at Mizzou. I want to see equality for all,” Phillips said. “I want people to feel accepted and I want Mizzou to be a brighter campus.”