This Year’s May Day Protests Aren’t Just About Labor – BRANDON E. PATTERSON APR. 30, 2017 6:00 AM


Activists of all stripes are teaming up to resist Trump’s policies.

Following the election of Donald Trump, groups affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement set out to expand their focus beyond criminal justice issues and build partnerships with outside advocacy groups. May Day will be the first big test. On May 1, International Workers’ Day, a coalition of nearly 40 advocacy groups, is holding actions across the nation related to workers’ rights, police brutality and incarceration, immigrants’ rights, environmental justice, indigenous sovereignty, and LGBT issues—and more broadly railing against a Trump agenda organizers say puts them all at risk.

“We understand that it’s going to take all of our movements in order to fight and win right now.”

This massive effort, dubbed Beyond the Movement, is led by a collective of racial-justice groups known as the Movement for Black Lives. Monday’s actions will include protests, marches, and strikes in more than 50 cities, adding to the efforts of the labor organizers who are leading the usual May Day protests.

Beyond the Moment kicked off officially on April 4, the 49th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech. In that speech, delivered in New York City in 1967, King addressed what he saw as the connection between the war in Vietnam and the racial and economic oppression of black Americans. Both, King argued, were driven by materialism, racism, and militarization—and he called upon the era’s diverse social movements to work together to resist them. (Exactly one year later, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, where he’d traveled to meet with black sanitation workers organizing for higher wages and better conditions.)

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A racial reckoning on campuses is overdue – Updated by Libby Nelson on November 11, 2015, 5:10 p.m. ET


The protests at Missouri won’t be the last.

The most striking thing about the racist incidents that forced the University of Missouri’s president and chancellor from office isn’t how unbelievable they are, but how banal. They could happen on any campus anywhere. They probably are. And now colleges are on notice: A timid response is unacceptable.

The protests at Missouri will not be the last.

The resignations of Missouri president Tim Wolfe and chancellor R. Bowen Loftin might quell the immediate crisis in Columbia, as the leaders hoped. But this isn’t just about one university’s tough semester. Over the past year, Americans have paid more attention to the role racism continues to play in everyday life, from the lingering symbols of the Confederacy to disparities in the criminal justice system.

Now that scrutiny has come around to universities. And while college leaders like to think of their institutions as progressive places, colleges, like other venerable American institutions, have both a past and a present laced with racism. For the first time since the late 1960s, students are forcing them to grapple seriously with it.

Historical racism at universities is getting more scrutiny

Black students during Cornell sit-inUnderwood Archive via Getty Images
Black students at Cornell University occupy the administration building in 1969.

When black students took over administration buildings and held sit-ins at colleges in the late 1960s, they left change behind them: black studies majors, promises of increased student and faculty diversity, new financial aid programs.

Today’s protestors are picking up those half-finished fights and demanding universities return to that era’s unfulfilled promises. Administrators, the students argue, don’t understand and aren’t helping with the challenges and everyday slights that students of color face on campuses that were often originally built to keep them out.

Some of the wounds the students want addressed are old ones. After the Charleston shootings, the persistence of monuments and memorials to the Confederacy and defenders of slavery on college campuses drew public attention. The nation’s most prestigious universities were built with slave trade money and in some cases slave labor — a history that many universities, including those in the Ivy League, weren’t willing to explore until the 21st century.

The University of Texas moved its statue of Jefferson Davis. Bowdoin College, in Maine, got rid of its Jefferson Davis Award. Yale University is still trying to decide whether it should rename Calhoun College, named after the virulent defender of slavery and Southern secession.

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http://www.vox.com/2015/11/11/9716460/missouri-protests-yale-race

 

Columbia racial tensions go beyond University of Missouri campus – by Kayla McCormick November 10, 2015 1:19PM ET Updated November 11, 2015 2:16AM ET & Massoud Hayoun


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COLUMBIA, Mo. — The president of the Columbia, Missouri branch of the NAACP has received a threatening letter amid protests that have gripped the University of Missouri (Mizzou), whose President Tim Wolfe resigned this week after an outcry from black students accusing him and other school officials of long ignoring racial slurs and bias on campus.

Columbia NAACP President Mary Ratliff — a stalwart of the national campaign for civil rights — received a letter Saturday threatening her and President Barack Obama, in what rights leaders say is a reminder that race issues in this urban hub are not confined to Mizzou.

“Die all you dirty devil black n****rs from hell,” said the letter, which was seen by Al Jazeera. It was addressed directly to Ratliff and was postmarked on Nov. 3 in Carol Stream, Illinois.

The Columbia Police Department did not immediately respond to an interview request. Ratliff said that police called her on Monday and said the FBI was investigating the case.

Hate mail at the NAACP is not uncommon, Ratliff said, particularly whenever the town’s black community — about 13 percent of its population of about 115,000, according to July 2014 Census statistics — engages in activism. The local NAACP received hate mail last year when local and federal authorities decided not to file charges against Dustin Deacon, a white man, over the death of Brandon Coleman, a 25-year-old black man.

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http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/11/10/mizzou-racial-tensions-not-only-felt-on-campus.html

 

Student protestors at the University of Missouri want a “no media safe space” – Updated by Libby Nelson on November 9, 2015, 7:30 p.m. ET


Members of the Concerned Student 1950 movement speak to students after president Tim Wolfe announced his resignation. — (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

The media flocked to cover football players at the University of Missouri protest the handling of racial incidents on campus, but some of the student protesters balked at the influx — going so far as to form a human shield to keep reporters away from the action.

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Traditionally, protesters might have welcomed coverage of their plight, certain that the national media’s attention would amplify their calls and put more pressure on the institution.

There are many reasons for this. The students already accomplished their landmark goal — these tweets were sent after university president Tim Wolfe announced his resignation on Monday. The campus has seen dozens, if not hundreds, of reporters descend, most of them, like the national media, overwhelmingly white. And these students have come of age after the rise of digital organizing. The national media is just another institution they don’t need, as the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery points out:

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The standoff appears to have caught many members of the national media, as well as student journalists at the university, off guard.

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http://www.vox.com/2015/11/9/9701376/missouri-protests-media

University of Missouri president resigns amid race row – By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Updated 12:54 PM ET, Mon November 9, 2015 | Video Source: CNN


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(CNN)Several University of Missouri organizations, including the football team and the student association, saw their demands met Monday when university system President Tim Wolfe announced he was stepping down amid a controversy over race relations at the school’s main campus.

Saying he takes “full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred,” he asked that the university community listen to each other’s problems and “stop intimidating each other.”

“This is not — I repeat, not — the way change should come about. Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation,” he said. “Use my resignation to heal and start talking again.”

His decision, he said, “came out of love, not hate,” and he urged the university to “focus on what we can change” in the future, not what’s happened in the past.

His decision came after black football players at the University of Missouri — with their coach’s support — threatened not to practice or play again until graduate student Jonathan Butler ended his hunger strike. Butler, who was protesting the state of race relations on the main campus and had demanded Wolfe’s removal, tweeted Monday morning, “My body is tired but my heart is strong. This fight for justice is necessary.”

He tweeted after Wolfe’s news conference that he had ended his hunger strike and said, “More change is to come!! #TheStruggleContinues.”

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http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/09/us/missouri-football-players-protest-president-resigns/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

Black Missouri Tigers players to strike over racial harassment on campus – Guardian Sport Sunday 8 November 2015 00.14 EST


  • Athletes call for the resignation of university president
  • Legion of Black Collegians put out message of discontent
University of Missouri

Black players from the Missouri Tigers football team say they will not participate in team activities until the university president, Tim Wolfe, resigns.

There have been several incidents of racial harassment in recent weeks on the college campus and Wolfe has come under criticism for his handling of the situation. In one recent incident, excrement in the shape of a swastika was smeared on a dormitory wall while other students have complained that racist slurs are common at the university. Jonathan Butler, a black graduate student at the college, is currently on hunger strike over the issue.

On Saturday night, the Legion of Black Collegians posted a message on Twitter calling for Wolfe to resign.

“The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,’” the tweet said. “We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!”

Athletes from the team, including star running back Russell Hanbrough, featured in a photo accompanying the tweet.

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http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/nov/08/black-missouri-tigers-players-to-strike-over-racial-harassment-on-campus

South Africa’s huge student protests, explained – Updated by Zack Beauchamp on October 24, 2015, 11:30 a.m. ET


(Ihsaan Haffejee/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) Demonstrators in Pretoria. 

Student protests over tuition fees have rocked South Africa’s universities for about a week. The protests have been so large that a number of universities across the country were shut down. Friday’s protest in the capital, Pretoria, attracted 10,000 people — the largest student protest since the famous 1976 Soweto anti-apartheid demonstration, according to the Guardian.

The protests were frequently met with riot police, occasionally equipped with tear gas and stun grenades. This kind of conflict is “not seen since the apartheid era,” the Financial Times‘ Andrew England reports.

Here’s where the protests came from — and why they’ve become such a big deal.

The protests began at the elite University of the Witwatersrand (called Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city. On October 14, Wits students organized a mass rally against what they saw as exorbitant increases in fees: students were being asked to pay 10.5 percent more in tuition and other fees, as well as 6 percent more in an up-front registration fee.

According to David Dickinson, a sociologist at Wits and a member of its council, the university felt it needed to raise fees to stay afloat financially. Dickinson, who voted against the fee increase on the council, blames South Africa’s government for providing insufficient financial support to schools and students. Without more government support, he writes, many poor and middle class black South Africans will not be able to afford higher education.

“The increasing reduction of state subsidies…is turning Wits and other universities into de facto private institutions,” Dickinson writes. “Elite not on the basis of intellectual ability, but on the basis of social class.”

This anger over perceived race and class discrimination fueled the initial round of anti-fees protest at Wits. But similar issues affected universities across the country, not just Wits, and so the protests spread like wildfire. Social media hashtags like #FeesMustFall and #NationalShutdown helped student protestors organize and share information across the country.

The government seemed to have no answer for this protest: tear gas did little to quell their growth. By the end of last week, the New York Times reports, the protests had “spread outside the campuses, as students have leveled their ire directly at the government.” Demonstrators “and police officers clashed outside the Parliament building in Cape Town, and students marched on Wednesday to the headquarters here of the African National Congress.”

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http://www.vox.com/2015/10/24/9607236/south-africas-huge-student-protests-explained