Four things we learned from Spike Lee’s ‘2 Fists Up’

Shortened versions of the film will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and on ESPN.
Before the premiere of Spike Lee's new documentary "2 Fist Up," Lee and interim UM System President Mike Middleton voice their hopes that the film has a positive impact on its audience.

When Spike Lee screens one of his movies for free, you watch.

Lee’s film “2 Fists Up,” which tells the story of Concerned Student 1950 and the football team’s involvement with the protests in November, premiered for free Wednesday at Missouri Theatre on Wednesday.

The movie was an hour long, but shortened versions of it will be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival and on ESPN.

Lee interviewed most of the founding members of Concerned Student 1950, the founding members of Black Lives Matter, as well as some Columbia University professors to add more context to the situation.

Here are four new bits of information in Lee’s film.

Mike Middleton stood up for Jonathan Butler

When graduate student Jonathan Butler went on his hunger strike, Deputy Chancellor Emeritus Mike Middleton, who was named interim UM System president after Tim Wolfe resigned, took action. In the movie, he said he talked to Butler every day during the strike.

But he also spoke out against Wolfe as well. Middleton said that Wolfe did not understand what Concerned Student 1950’s message was.

Middleton tried his best to explain to Wolfe, and when Wolfe resisted, he said in the film, “This isn’t your experience, this is my experience.”

The crowd erupted in cheers upon hearing Middleton’s line.

Melissa Click makes another appearance

Cheers erupted throughout the theater when assistant communication professor Melissa Click, who was fired by the UM System Board of Curators in February after her involvement with last fall’s protests, made an appearance in the film.

She said that she made a “mistake,” and thought that she was a “convenient target” for the university.

The film also vilified journalism student Tim Tai, who stood his ground at the Concerned Student 1950 campsite as protesters pushed him away. One scene in the movie showed Tai trying to run around protesters who were blocking him.

Marshall Allen, one of the original members of Concerned Student 1950, said there’s no law that disallows someone putting their hand on a camera and pushing it away.

Middleton did not take a position on Click’s actions and said “the board had sufficient evidence to make their decision.”

Melissa Click was in the audience during the film and had a discussion with Lee before the film started.

The Homecoming demonstration had an underlying motive

The football team’s boycott threatened the university’s pocketbook, since a forfeit of the game against Brigham Young University would have cost the university $1 million and even more money in ticket sales.

But Concerned Student 1950 didn’t just want to threaten the university’s revenue, which is why they chose to demonstrate during the homecoming parade.

During his interview with Lee, which was done at Traditions Plaza, Butler said that the group wanted to directly attack MU’s traditions in order to dismantle racism at the university.

The film clarifies misconceptions about the movement

When the national media came to MU in November, many media outlets framed the protests around the swastika drawn in feces at Gateway Hall in October and an incident at Traditions Plaza with racial slurs being yelled at the members of Legion of Black Collegians Homecoming Royalty.

Lee’s film provided the additional context of the movement and clarifies some of the misconceptions perpetuated in November. The opening of the film shows examples of the many racially charged killings of black men such as Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown.

He showed that those events, the Black Lives Matter and the MU4MikeBrown movements provided the foundation for the protests.

Edited by Taylor Blatchford |

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