To the football team at the University of Missouri, I say thank you. Not just for standing up and speaking out for what you believed, but for delivering a lesson that has somehow fallen through the cracks since the height of the Civil Rights era. It’s the same formula that drove the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The lesson is powerful, albeit quite simple; Collective efforts and money matters. It’s really as simple as that. That is how change is made. The football team, which is undeniably the core and pride of the university, threatened to not play unless the university’s president resigned or was terminated because of racist remarks. Less than 24 hours after the demand, the president resigned. While he may have personally not given two-cents about the students or their demands, the university and those who run it recognized the collective and financial impact a “boycott” would have.
Nowhere was there a “hold out” player trying to talk the other team members out of their plans; no dissention in the ranks of the team or students of all races who supported or shared their view and demands. This is usually an undercut in many social efforts, as one or two “key” people are engaged to talk the others out of what they plan and believe.
And, there was a clear recognition by the football team of their worth. They realized their value and financial contribution, impact and apparent influence on the university. This is called leverage.
This is the lesson that all communities, but especially urban ones, should duplicate; Collective application and leveraging of worth. Period.
From stores with poor quality service and goods, to companies with a lack of diversity or sensitivity to increased levels of excellence and performance in schools; racial injustice and everything in between, it all could be positively swayed if and when folks stuck together to impact the bottom line.
The key is to be simple, organized and focused. Know what you want, and be willing to sacrifice something to get it. Realize your value and worth, and be willing to withhold it without compromise as a negotiating chip. Be willing to support a cause that may not impact you directly, but will certainly matter to your or someone else’s quality of life. We live in a society fueled by capitalism, and ears perk up when money talks. And, like it (or each other) or not we are all in this together.
It has long been said that the next era of change will be ushered in by our young people. Well, the University of Missouri football team has just kicked down the door.