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Before protests, U. of Missouri saw decades of race tension

A woman passes a tent encampment set up by student protesters following an announcement that… Read more

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — This week’s events at the University of Missouri seemed to unfold rapidly, with little warning. But some students, faculty and alumni say the protests and sudden resignation of the president and chancellor are the culmination of years of racial tension on the state’s flagship campus.

The history of racially charged incidents dates back generations.

When the university denied admission to black law school applicant Lloyd Gaines, the issue led to an influential 1938 Supreme Court decision that helped pave the way for the civil rights movement.

Three decades later, during the unrest of the late 1960s, the Legion of Black Collegians emerged at Mizzou to press for increased minority representation among students, staff and faculty — a goal student protesters say remains unmet.

And the 2011 suicide of black swimmer Sasha Menu Courey after she was allegedly raped by several football players led some to question the campus commitment to investigating sexual assaults.

“Who built this university?” asked student government President Payton Head. “Who was building buildings in 1839” when the school was founded?

“Slavery wasn’t abolished until 1865,” Head said. “But we don’t talk about that history here at the University of Missouri.”

Head’s social media accounts of having racial slurs shouted at him from a passing pickup truck helped spark a renewed protest movement at Missouri that culminated Monday with the resignation of university system President Tim Wolfe. Hours later, the top administrator of the Columbia campus, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, was forced out.

 

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Timeline of recent events at University of Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Complaints about the handling of racial and other concerns led to this week’s resignation of University of Missouri system President Tim Wolfe and the top administrator of the Columbia campus, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. A timeline of key events:

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AUG. 14: The university announces the elimination of subsidies that help pay health insurance costs for graduate students employed by the school.

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AUG. 26: Graduate students stage a walkout and rally, in part to oppose the health care cut.

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SEPT. 12: Missouri Student Association President Payton Head posts on Facebook that young people in a pickup truck yelled racial slurs at him. It’s the first of many racial incidents on the Columbia campus this fall. Sit-ins, walkouts and other protests follow, fueled by concern that administrators are not addressing the tension.

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SEPT. 16: The university and Planned Parenthood announce the end of their 26-year relationship after state lawmakers start investigating abortions performed at the university clinics.

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SEPT. 24: A “Racism Lives Here” rally takes place on campus.

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SEPT. 29: An estimated 1,000 protesters turn out for a rally in support of Planned Parenthood.

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OCT. 5: A drunk man yells racial slurs at members of the Legion of Black Collegians. Loftin, on Twitter and in a video message, expresses anger at the slurs.

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OCT. 6: Students and faculty stage a sit-in against racism and administrative inaction.

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OCT. 8: The university announces that freshmen will be required to undergo diversity training beginning in January, and the program will eventually be expanded to include all students, faculty and staff.

 

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