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Mizzou at a Crossroads Part 1 - Past and Present

Marshall Allen and Howard Taylor, two student activists at MU - fifty years apart.

Last November, the University of Missouri was rocked by protests led by black student group Concerned Student 1950. The group of 11 students captured campus attention with its message that university administrators were not doing enough to address racism on campus.

One graduate student began a hunger strike that he said could end in one of two ways: with then-UM System President Tim Wolfe’s resignation, or with the protester’s death by starvation. The story went national when the MU football team announced a boycott in support of the hunger striker. In quick succession, Wolfe resigned and former MU Chancellor R Bowen Loftin stepped down, unleashing a fresh storm of criticism and debate.

How did the University of Missouri get to this point? And how might its path forward navigate the complex landscapes of university funding, policies and staffing, student demands and Missouri politics? That’s what we’re exploring in our special three part series, Mizzou at a Crossroads. In part one, we examine the history of racial issues and student demonstrations at MU, because to understand how we got here, it helps to look back. Then we'll hear a conversation between a black MU student activist from the late 1960’s and a member of the present-day Concerned Student 1950.


Sara Shahriari was the assistant news director at KBIA-FM, and she holds a master's degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. Sara hosted and was executive producer of the PRNDI award-winning weekly public affairs talk show Intersection. She also worked with many of KBIA’s talented student reporters and teaches an advanced radio reporting lab. She previously worked as a freelance journalist in Bolivia for six years, where she contributed print, radio and multimedia stories to outlets including Al Jazeera America, Bloomberg News, the Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor, Deutsche Welle and Indian Country Today. Sara’s work has focused on mental health, civic issues, women’s and children’s rights, policies affecting indigenous peoples and their lands and the environment. While earning her MA at the Missouri School of Journalism, Sara produced the weekly Spanish-language radio show Radio Adelante. Her work with the KBIA team has been recognized with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and PRNDI, among others, and she is a two-time recipient of funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Rebecca Smith is an award-winning reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk. Born and raised outside of Rolla, Missouri, she has a passion for diving into often overlooked issues that affect the rural populations of her state – especially stories that broaden people’s perception of “rural” life.
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