The following is a greeting of congratulations from the presidential campaign of Workers World Party candidates Monica Moorehead and Lamont Lilly to the Black students at the University of Missouri and their supporters.
A little over 100 miles west of Ferguson, Mo., the Black athletes of University of Missouri’s football team, with support from their white teammates, have sent shockwaves across the U.S. as they have shown the power of united action against racism. Inspired by the strength of a movement that developed rapidly on campus led by Black students, the athletes struck a powerful blow. This blow defeated a university administration that failed to act to stop white supremacist violence against students of color, athletes of color, students and staff.
Missouri’s students, following the lead of graduate student Jonathan Butler and other students of color, have shown that if Black Lives don’t matter to universities, then there will be no classes or football. They have forced the resignation of the college president and chancellor and have already inspired mass struggles against racism and other forms of oppression and discrimination at Yale University in Connecticut.
The Moorehead-Lilly Campaign, launched on the same day as this strike, stands in full solidarity with these inspiring athletes and all the students and supporters who have risked so much to take a stand against racism. We not only salute their victory, but we call on the broad progressive movement to extend a hand of concrete solidarity to this ongoing struggle against racism here and everywhere. We cannot allow any struggle against racism to face isolation! An injury to one is an injury to all!
Actions like these remind us all of the power of withholding one’s labor, in this case, the unpaid work of Black college football players and of all the athletes who stand in solidarity with their initiative. In college big-budget athletics, the student-athletes are workers who produce huge profits for universities while receiving no wages. Merely missing one game next weekend would have cost the university $1 million. This made the strike by Black athletes, along with a solidarity strike by Black graduate students and a walkout by faculty, even more powerful. Student athletes, like unemployed youth, need union jobs.
The struggle at the University of Missouri is a microcosm of struggles going on across the United States. Graduate students there have waged a unionization drive. Soon-to-be-former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin had cut women’s access to reproductive health care. Meanwhile, women students face a sexual assault epidemic. These same conditions exist not only at universities across the country, but throughout society, with the police assault on people of color leading the list of injustices.
The Moorehead-Lilly Campaign will continue to build solidarity with and spread this struggle among all layers of the diverse working class in the United States for this and future struggles against racism, sexism, homophobia and all forms of oppression and discrimination. Above all, we will fight against the capitalist system that engenders them.
Black Lives Matter!
For more information on the Moorehead-Lilly Campaign, visit workersworldparty.org or call 212-627-2994.
WW photos: Brenda Ryan