#ConcernedStudent1950 and the University of Missouri became a trending topic all over social media in early November 2015. My Facebook feed was filled with the same status posted over and over again: “To the students of color at Mizzou. We students of color at Mount Holyoke College stand with you in solidarity. To those who would harm them or threaten their sense of safety, the world is watching.” with the variations of the following tags, #ConcernedStudent1950, #InSolidarityWithMizzou, #BlackCollegiateSolidarity. Something big had happened. Who was this “concerned student”? What incident involving a Black person’s life happened again? What was going on back in Missouri?
#ConcernedStudent1950 is a hashtag created in reference to the Black activists on the University of Missouri’s campus called Concerned Student 1950. The significance to the name is to honor the first Black student admitted into the university in 1950. The student organization was created to combat the racial hostility that had been allowed without any action or response from the university. The last line of the status, “To those who would harm them or threaten their sense of safety, the world is watching,” refers to the growing hostility where Black students were dealing with death threats and were being openly harassed by white students. Black students were at a point where they no longer felt physically safe on campus and created an uproar across the nation, hitting home with many Black college students, including myself. The question is what led to these events on Mizzou’s campus? One pivotal moment was protestors blocked the university’s president’s car during the Homecoming parade in early October 2015. The protestors attempted to voice their concerns about the growing racial hostility on the campus directly to the president, but were largely ignored. The student group, Concerned Student 1950, then created a list of demands, which included an apology from the university’s president for their negligence in addressing the issues that exist on the campus and creation of plan to increase inclusiveness and racial awareness. The students’ protests and demands led to the university’s president to step down.
Here’s a link to the group’s twitter to obtain more information on their story and their current actions: https://twitter.com/cs_1950?lang=en
Also here is a CNN article with a brief timeline of the events: http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/09/us/missouri-protest-timeline/
And two other articles that go into more detail about the incidents that happened at Mizzou here: http://blavity.com/mizzouhungerstrike-is-what-happens-when-universities-disregard-black-lives/