Protests at the University of Missouri last fall over repeated racist incidents—and administrators’ refusal to tackle the institution’s structural racism—inspired a wave of similar actions at universities across the country and compelled president Tim Wolfe to resign. Now, you can watch a new student-created documentary about the movement.
“Concerned Student 1950” takes its name from the Black student activist group responsible for organizing much of the resistance to Mizzou administration (which is, in turn, named after the year that Mizzou admitted its first Black student). The documentary’s three co-directors—Adam Dietrich, Varun Bajaj and Kellan Marvin—are all Mizzou students. You can see the film above, courtesy of Field of Vision.
The directors spoke to The Intercept (which, like Field of Vision, is a project of First Look Media) about the projecct, candidly noting their own positionality as non-Black people documenting the work of primarily-Black anti-racist activists:
Do you feel any anxiety about putting this out there now? A sense of responsibility because of the access that you received?
Adam Dietrich: Definitely, there’s a big feeling of responsibility. Because at this point, I feel it’s our job to do a really good job of telling this story. And then there’s this kind of backhanded piece to it, where I’m a White guy and I don’t want my voice to speak louder than theirs, because that completely dilutes their message, you know? I don’t want this to be whitewashed in any way, I don’t want to be able to see our fingerprints on it very much. I want to tell their story the way they’ve been telling it, because that’s literally the point of their movement.
Kellan Marvin: My anxiety is whether or not it’s as clear as we think it is. I’m with my grandparents right now, and I’ve been having a lot of conversations about this, and no matter how clearly I think I’m putting everything, as black and white as I can make it, it’s still not changing minds, it’s still not changing hearts. And so I’m just concerned that we’re not doing as big of a favor as we would like to.
Varun Bajaj: For me, the anxiety comes from the fact that they didn’t want the media there because they knew students were only there to get their big break, and now we’re putting our names on this project. That’s something I’ve had to grapple with every day while working on this. I still don’t know how to feel about that. But this is my role in the movement, getting this footage out there. I guess I feel, the word I would use is a little dirty, that we’re being interviewed right now rather than them. But that’s something that I’m just going to have to deal with.
Check out “Concerned Student 1950” above.