Role models in the NFL have inspired a University of Michigan graduate student to spend an entire day kneeling near a campus icon in a peaceful, silent protest of what he sees as racial inequality.
School officials approved of and supported Dana Greene Jr.’s desire to “kneel until my knees bleed” on the pavement, facing a flag at “block M” on the Ann Arbor campus Diag, beginning at 7 a.m. on Monday.
A graduate student who attends the School of Public Health, Greene told MLive, “I am doing this for every student on this campus that has ever felt like they didn’t belong here.”
He recently wrote an open letter to University President Mark Schlissel, saying that he was tired of doing nothing in reaction to the racism he experiences as a black man in this country and inspired after watching “many black men take a knee during our country’s national anthem to bring attention to the inequality in this country.”
Dear President Schlissel,
I have attended the University of Michigan for five years. I have crossed the fountain in Ingalls Mall as an incoming freshman and as a graduate. I’ve walked the halls of our dorms as a Resident assistant and I’ve mopped the floors of our dining halls. I’ve marched in the Diag when our campus and country faced the tension of racial strife. I am a black man and this weekend I watched many black men take a knee during our country’s national anthem to bring attention to the inequality in this country. I also watched the President of the United States disrespect those men referring to them as “Sons of Bitches” and demanding that they should be fired from their jobs.
During the course of the last year I have watched as anti-Muslim, anti-Black, anti-Latinx, and anti-immigrant rhetoric has raced across our campus and across our country and I can no longer stand silently by. You see I had become numb to what our country and our campus had become. I had convinced myself that if I simply continued to move forward with my studies and with my job that things would get better. I am no longer numb but instead I will use this moment in time to make a statement.
I will kneel in the Diag facing the flag in silent protest until there is nothing left in me. I am prepared to miss class and work for a simple idea. I am not kneeling in disrespect to our troops or to our country. I am kneeling because we should be better than this. I am kneeling because I am tired of doing nothing. I am kneeling because I want this campus and this country to acknowledge a fact that I know to be true. We are not and have never lived by the idea of our founding that ALL men are created equal. I am kneeling because we our better than this.
Dana Greene Jr.
Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
School of Public Health Research Assistant Health Behavior Health Education Prevention Research Center
Hundreds of classmates and many student groups joined Greene throughout the day, bringing food and water as temperatures rose into the 90s, according to university officials.
Several school leaders, including Provost Martin Philbert and Victor Strecher, professors of Health Behavior and Health Education, met with Green as he knelt on the Diag.
Student Life staff members were slated to stay with Greene overnight. The student counseling center known as CAPS also offered yoga mats for students kneeling around him.
Schlissel, who was out of town on university business, spoke with Greene on the phone and planned to meet him on Wednesday.
Green ended his protest at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.
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