Christiana Gardner , The Black Bear – On Saturday Oct. 18, Missouri State University students, faculty and alumni gathered in the West Mall near the stadium to participate in the school’s homecoming tailgate festivities.
Some students chose BearFest Village’s tailgating activities as a place of protest to bring attention to the black lives that have been lost to police brutality and the racism demonstrators say black students on Missouri State’s campus experience on a daily basis. They named the protest Homecoming Blackout.
The demonstrators marched onto the campus making their first stop at the North Mall. A number of the demonstrators wore masks and dressed in all black. They displayed their signs that read messages such as “black lives matter” and “hands up don’t shoot.”
The demonstrators then walked in pairs throughout the tailgate area, completely silent aside from a few people who were given the authority to speak in order to help navigate the group.
One student expressed his immediate reaction seeing the student demonstrators as they walked through BearFest Village.
For over 10 minutes the demonstrators were stationary in the middle of the tailgating area standing atop of the school bear head logo. A number of the demonstrators laid down to represent the dead bodies of the black men and women who were killed by police officers.
A few tailgate goers witnessed this part of the demonstration and gave their opinions on its affect.
After the tailgate, a number of demonstrators continued their demonstration inside of Plaster Stadium during the football game. Before going in, a number of the demonstrators changed their clothes and hid their signs because they feared they would not be let in.
For the duration of halftime, at the homecoming game the demonstrators stood holding their signs in silence as the homecoming court was introduced and as the king and queen were crowned. After halftime the majority of the demonstrators left.
Following the silent protest, some of the students a part of the demonstration reflected on their experiences and expressed what this means for them going forward as members of the university.
Days before the demonstration, Missouri State’s dean of students was worried about tailgaters reactions toward the demonstrators.
The night prior to the tailgate the demonstrators met to place chalking on the side walks in the tailgate area with messages similar to those shown on their signs. Those chalking were later washed off, prior to the tailgate, by the grounds crew after they were instructed to do so by Missouri State Director of Athletics, Kyle Moats.
Many members of the community hope the demonstration makes a difference for the climate on their campus and ultimately has a positive impact on the community.
The demonstrators say Homecoming Blackout is the first of many events on racial issues. Speak up and Blackout Pt. II are planned for the first week of November.