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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

MSU Blackout Protesters Host New Event

Ryan Johnson

During Missouri State University’s homecoming, 35 protesters gathered to stand for black rights and inclusion on the campus. It was a silent protest, but the responses they received were anything but. KSMU’s Anna Thomas spoke with members of the group about their next event.

Speak Up Part 2 Blackout will be held tomorrow to discuss the growing responses their protest has stimulated.

Shannon Shellnor, a senior and core-collaborator for the organization, says it’s a chance for the student body to talk.

“They are able to just come and share their opinion about it,” Shellner said.

The earlier protest sparked some resistance from homecoming attendees.

“Immediately when we got there people were just staring in awe, they were shaking their heads. People starting call us the ‘n’ word, told us to go back to St. Louis, told us to go back to Ferguson. Several racial slurs, and profanities,” Shellner said.

Ryan Johnson, a senior and one of the protesters, says she expected the response.

“At Missouri State, we experience racism on a day to day basis. So we knew it was going to happen. And even though it hurt us, we were pleased because it just validated what we’ve been going through. They confirmed it,” Johnson said.

She adds that receiving such a big reaction meant they made an impact.

“Our main goal was to pop the bubble on racism. Of course no one wants to talk about racism, but we wanted to pop that bubble so that people have no choice but to talk about it,” Johnson said.

Both women hope there’s a good turnout for Part 2. Johnson says it’s a time to share their experiences.

“The majority, white people, I hope they come so that they can hear people of color, hear what we are facing,” Johnson said.

Shellner adds that she expects the administration to get involved at the event as well.

“I hope they show up, and I hope they really listen to what students, other than those who protested, actually have to say. Because we’re not they only ones who felt like this,” Shellner said.

Officials at Missouri State University did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But in a statement released following the homecoming protests, the school said it does not condone actions or comments directed at the Blackout participants and “accordingly, the university will continue to take appropriate actions to address diversity-related concerns.”

Speak Up Part 2 will be held tomorrow at 3 p.m. in MSU’s Carrington Hall theater.