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Troublesome Movement and Advocates Host Thanksgiving Food Drive

Christopher Mitchell

For MU Professor Stephen Graves and his local initiative, the Troublesome Movement, cold and rainy weather can’t keep a good cause down.

Graves and the Troublesome Movement, in conjunction with the WE Project and the University of Missouri’s Legion of Black Collegiates, hosted Thanksgiving food drives on Saturday, Nov. 21 at Speakers Circle on the MU campus and on Monday, Nov. 23 at Douglass Park.

Community members were asked to donate non-perishable foods ranging from instant mashed potatoes and canned green beans to cream of mushroom soup and yams. 

On Saturday, the group convened on MU's campus but had to close early due to the inclement weather.

“The elements put a little bit of a damper on our plans,” said Graves. But the group continued the drive at Douglass Park. “[Douglass Park] is central in the city and central to the people we would like to help. It’s got the right kind of environment and is conducive to the elements, given the weather.”

This year, the food drive saw an increase in the number of online donations via the organization’s website.

“It’s probably double the online donations that we’ve traditionally seen, just from people who felt safer making donations online versus coming out physically doing drop-offs,” said Graves. “We’ve also seen a lot of people who actually come out to do physical donations as well, that’s why we’re doing it a second day.”

It’s also the first time that Graves and the Troublesome Movement have held a food drive in Columbia, as the group originally worked in areas like Portland and Troutsdale, Oregon.

“Part of the conditions of me coming here was to get involved with the community,” said Graves, who accepted a teaching role at the university this past year. “I’ve had the opportunity through the Department of Black Studies and through some of the students and other community members to really get a good look at what happens in Columbia being from the outside coming in.”

Valerie Berta, a community organizer and co-founder of the WE Project, said Graves approached her to help organize and plan the food drive, so she helped him get in touch with her connections with organizations around the area. She stressed the importance of organizations working with each other to make the work more effective. 

“Collaboration is not the strong point," she said, "so being able to connect people so we can work together better and more widely I think is essential.”

Credit Christopher Mitchell / KBIA
Despite the rain, members of the Troublesome Movement and the WE Project hosted a Thanksgiving community food drive, at Columbia's Douglass Park, on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020.

Graves says the Troublesome Movement hopes to continue its charitable services like toy drives around Christmas. 

Outside of seasonal events, the Movement also performs educational services year-round with partner groups to bring awareness on voter issues and other political matters, as well as offering places where young Black males in the community can go for mental health and other kinds of support.

“We think one of the most important needs and motivations that we’re trying to really come to is bring forth innovative and creative ideas, which are usually in conflict with the status quo,” said Graves when asked about where the name “Troublesome” came from. “As we try to do things in a way we feel can transform communities for the common good, it is very problematic for people who are attached to the way things are.”

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