November 17, 3:00 PM EST: Live Q&A with Frank Guridy on the University of Missouri Protests

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On Tuesday, November 17, from 3 PM to 4 PM EST, Dr. Frank A. Guridy, Visiting Associate Professor of History at Columbia, will join History in Action to answer your questions about the historical context and contemporary implications of the University of Missouri protests.

Prof. Guridy is a scholar of sport history, urban history, and the history of the African Diaspora in the Americas.  You can follow him at @fguridy.

Please tune in by returning to this space for the live Q&A.

 

Advance questions are very welcome.  Before the event, please submit questions here.

During the event itself, please submit questions via the dialogue box below or via Twitter, to @HIAColumbia.

 

Please help spread the word to interested friends and colleagues (historian or otherwise)!

16 thoughts on “November 17, 3:00 PM EST: Live Q&A with Frank Guridy on the University of Missouri Protests”
  1. Welcome to the first live Q&A on the History in Action site. Many thanks to Professor Frank Guridy for joining us. Dr. Guridy will be responding to your questions about the historical context and contemporary implications of the U. of Missouri student protests.

    Please register yourself to the HIA site to submit comments and questions.

    Dr. Guridy, thanks for joining! To get us started, can you give us some context for thinking about the history of student athlete activism?

    1. Thank you for having me! There is a long history of student athlete activism in this country. When one thinks about the Black Freedom Struggle, one might recall the Olympic Project for Human Rights, which was spearheaded by Harry Edwards and other black student athletes in 1967-68; the struggle to implement Title IX in intercollegiate athletics in the 1970s and 80s which was propelled in part by women student athletes; and more recently the efforts to challenge the NCAA’s model of amateur athletics by Kain Colter and the Northwestern Football Players. Thus, when I think of the recent solidarity work of the Missouri football players, I place it within the context of that history.

  2. What are the primary differences between the student athlete movements of these earlier periods and those of contemporary players?

  3. In some ways, the stakes are higher today. The enormous financial investments in big time college athletics puts players in a more vulnerable position than they may have been in the past. Part of that vulnerability is based on the “iron curtain” that often exists between student athletes and general student populations on many college campuses .I think the actions of the Missouri players took many people by surprise because of the ways student athletes, particularly those who play in the “revenue generating sports (men’s basketball and football) are segregated from the larger student body. There is a giant apparatus that governs the lives of student athletes who play in big-time college programs which keeps them removed from the concerns of most students on campus. The money in big-time programs like Missouri’s and the gross inequalities between coaches, athletic directors and players (which did not exist in the past) discourages them from taking political risks.

  4. So do you see the financial stakes in the Mizzou case being just as or more significant than the social capital leveraged by the football team?

  5. In this particular case, I think the financial stakes were paramount. Football programs like Missouri have enormous social capital that is important to take into account, but there is no question in my mind that the players, and the administration understood the financial costs of forfeiting a televised football game. The threat of refusing to play in a game, like all boycotts, was a financially-inspired maneuvers, a fact that was understood, I am sure, by the players, and the university leadership.

  6. Obviously, not all student athletes have the financial leverage of the Mizzou players. What strategies of activism do we see at work in earlier student athlete protest movements that contemporary student athletes on less financially flush teams might adopt to further their own goals?

  7. In 1976, the Yale Women’s Crew team barged into the of the office of the Women’s Athletic director and stripped off their clothes to show the words “Title IX” which they wrote on their backs to protest the sexism they experienced in the athletic program. Crew is not a “revenue generating” sport, and Yale is not a “big time” sports school, but those women understood–something you just highlighted in your previous question–the tremendous social capital that sports possesses on college campuses and the society as a whole. Student athletes have always understood the role that their labor power plays in the forging of a school’s identity and there is a lot of evidence that shows that when they have deviated from their prescribed roles as “players,” they have often provoked responses by university administrators.

  8. Following up on the Yale thread, a question from @Sepoy: “Are lessons from Mizzou applicable to Yale? Should we be talking about a singular story of race on campus?”

  9. Yes, indeed! We’ve focused on student athletic activism, but the Missouri case, and the protests at Yale and on other campuses across the country, raise the issue of ongoing racial and social inequality on campus and in our society as a whole. The activism of NBA players in solidarity with the broader Black Lives Movement, for example, illustrates the connections between inequalities in sport with the broader struggles taking place in the country today. The protests at Missouri, Yale, Occidental, KU, and so on illustrate this broader struggle that is taking place outside of the sporting world.

  10. Can we speculate on whether specific local circumstances (at Mizzou, the series of micro- and overt racist aggressions) are necessary to spur the sort of student and athlete activism we are seeing there? What could provoke similar protests at university systems which don’t have the same history as Mizzou?

  11. Missouri is a unique case rooted in its history as a “border” state which contains elements of northern and southern racism. But the fascinating current discussion of “microagressions,” (unintentional racist slights) throughout the country, and the older discussion of “structural racism” that folks from my generation often highlighted, illustrates the national resonance of suggests that we have a national pattern of racial inequalities. The current moment of national student protests, like the grassroots struggles against police violence throughout the country, illustrate the resonance of these issues on a national level.

  12. As a historian, what are your thoughts on the explicit appeal to history and heritage with the choice of “Concerned Student 1950” as the rallying identity?

  13. Of course, as a historian, I will say that I love that decision to locate current struggles on Missouri’s campus within a longer history of claimsmaking at that institution. Student activists sometimes dis-identify with previous generations, but this group clearly does not. Calling yourselves “Concerned Students 1950” can inspire Mizzou’s current group of student activists, but it can also inspire all students and members of that community to reactivate the region’s anti-racist legacies. Histories, even at institutions with ugly histories of discrimination, can be rewritten and the Jon Butlers, and the Payton Heads, the leader of the Missouri Students Association, the football players, and the lesser known students and members of that community are going about the business of rewriting that history.

  14. And with that, we’ve reached the end of the hour and our first HIA live Q&A session.

    A huge thanks to Dr. Guridy for joining us and for sharing his insights on the history of student athlete activism as it relates to the Mizzou protests.

    Thanks to everyone who tuned in today, and keep an eye out for future HIA live Q&As.

    And remember, Columbia graduate students and faculty can host live Q&A sessions from the HIA site on the topic of their choice. Have an idea for a live Q&A? Let us know!

    Write to us at historyinaction@columbia.edu or tweet to us at @HIAColumbia.

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