How Long Was Jonathan Butler's Hunger Strike? The University Of Missouri Student Made a Pledge & Stuck To It
University of Missouri graduate student Jonathan L. Butler is trailblazing a poignant path to equality. On Nov. 2, a week before university president Tim Wolfe's resignation, Butler posted a letter on Facebook to the "Mizzou" community, stating that he will starve himself until Wolfe stepped down. Pleas to remove the official came after racial slurs, directed towards the Students Association President, went unaddressed in September and were followed in October with swastikas made of feces and painted on dorms walls.
After protests alongside Butler's fellow "Concerned Student 1950" members, whose group name commemorates the year black students were first accepted to the University, failed to inspire action amongst school officials, Butler documented his seven-day long hunger strike that not only contributed to the resignation of Wolfe, but also brought much-needed attention to the activism behind a modern and still developing equal rights movement.
The Washington Post reports that other students, including all of those on the football team, quickly demonstrated their support for the movement. In an interview with the publication, Butler said that he's simply fighting for justice.
When you localize it to the hunger strike it really is about the environment that is on campus. We have reactionary, negligent individuals on all levels at the university level on our campus and at the university system level, and so their job descriptions explicitly say that they're supposed to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students ... but when we have issues of sexual assault, when we have issues of racism, when we have issues of homophobia, the campus climate continues to deteriorate because we don't have strong leadership, willing to actually make change.
After Butler's hunger strike began, Concerned Student 1950 created a petition, signed by over 7,000 supporters, to remove Tim Wolfe from University office. The petition outlines the discriminatory incidents that originally inspired the protests in more detail. It cites, in particular, a peaceful October demonstration where black students were met with violence that went unpunished.
Hopefully, this publicity also raises awareness on Butler's wide array of efforts made to not only act against racial discrimination, but also to address the epidemic of human trafficking occurring worldwide. The 25-year-old also founded a nonprofit photography company called Moyo Wazi, which translates to "open heart" in Swahili. Proceeds to photography services are given to both local and global human rights organizations.
Surely Butler's commitment to equality both on campus and worldwide won't stop here.