Last Saturday students, alumni and community members gathered to celebrate Homecoming at the University of Missouri. A yearly staple of the celebration is a parade that includes bands, floats, and the familiar "M-I-Z!" "Z-O-U!" chant.
Last year that chant was used to drown out the voices of a group of African-American protestors, Concerned Student 1950. That student group was protesting a lack of response to racist incidents on campus. Their protests eventually led to the resignation of then UM System President Tim Wolfe.
One year later, we spoke with families at the parade about that protest and the changes on campus that followed.
Lillian Robinson, graduated from MU in 2014. She was in the parade when the protest occurred.
“I think there’s been a lot of talk you know Mizzou’s not great anymore, these things have happened and it’s just like not the way I look at it. A lot of really good things are happening and it’s all about perspective and trying to educate your friends on like no, Mizzou’s doing a really good thing. I think if we just continue on this, this path of brining more black faculty, more black leadership and really just continue to embrace diversity that’s what Mizzou stands for that’s what we’re here for.”
Gina Hayer comes to the parade every year with her kids.
"I was here for the whole thing, it happened right here. I mean it kind of sucked because especially for, I didn’t realize how much of impact it had on my family until we were coming here this year and both of my kids said 'I really hope what happened last year doesn’t happen this year.' Of course they asked why it was happening. There wasn’t a good explanation that we could give them other than the fact that they were just upset about something and wanted to speak their mind about it."
Tiffany Thomas is a senior at MU. Tiffany and her mother, Kimberly Kramer, decided to watch the parade at the corner of University and 9th Street in case another protest was to happen. They wanted to be there to support it.
"I definitely feel like everyone’s moved on this year and kind of found a way to move past the tension so it is nice that it’s not as stressful. Last year homecoming was kind of a stressful event for me. I know I was really worried last year about being out and about with everybody and kind of some people were saying some mean things."
Kramer explained that since her daughter is biracial, she feels protective when she hears about racism occurring on campus.
"I take offense to her being scared or threatened or angry because I think it takes away from her education if she has to focus on how ignorant people act and the things that they do it’s hard for her to study and to go to class and to stay focused on what she’s here for."
Brian Elder is an MU alum. He witnessed the protest last year with his family.
"For better or worse, it’s who we are, what our university is, our history and it's important to keep that conversation going. We actually spoke with some of the protestors and said that this is your Mizzou, it’s my Mizzou that’s what this school is and if you can’t have those conversation at college university where else are you going to have them? I have no regrets about kids seeing that and we are right back where we were this year."