Introduction to the #Mizzousyllabus

Original members of the Concerned Student 1950 Movement hold a press conference after the resignation of UM System President Tim Wolfe (Source: The Columbia Missourian)
Original members of the Concerned Student 1950 Movement hold a press conference after the resignation of UM System President Tim Wolfe (Source: The Columbia Missourian)

Recent events at the University of Missouri-Columbia have captured the attention of people across the country. They have certainly impacted me. As a black alumnus of a predominantly white institution, I marveled as students in Columbia shed light on the ways in which their PWI has struggled to transcend its past policy and culture of exclusion. As a former student-athlete from a family of student-athletes, I watched with amazement as black members of the Missouri football team along with their white teammates and coaches refused to play until the President of the University of Missouri System resigned. Finally, as an historian and professor of African American history, I was struck by what Ibram X. Kendi has identified as the “sheer power of Black students and their antiracist allies.”

These were not only remarkable but historic events. In recognition of that fact and in the hopes of historicizing public discourse about the events at Missouri, Dr. Leah Wright Rigueur has conceived of a #Mizzousyllabus. Birthed in the same spirit as the #Charlestonsyllabus, this resource, curated by the African American Intellectual History Society in collaboration with Dr. Rigueur, is meant to help educators broach conversations about an ongoing and seminal event in United States and African American History. It contains valuable readings about black student movements in the United States, the history of race relations and racial inequality in Missouri and other topics of relevance.

This syllabus is meant to be a start, not an ending. We hope that educators will not only use it as a resource in their classes and scholarship but also build on it in subsequent weeks and months. Indeed, ongoing attention is critical. If the current demonstrations occurring at college campuses across the United States in solidarity with the Missouri activists are any indication, this is much more of a sustained movement than a fleeting moment.


Brandon Byrd

Brandon R. Byrd is an assistant professor of history at Vanderbilt University and working on a book manuscript entitled, An Experiment in Self-Government: Haiti in the African-American Political Imagination. Follow him on Twitter @bronaldbyrd.

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