Inspired by national anthem protest, UM student kneels

The Detroit News

A University of Michigan graduate student is kneeling near a campus icon for 24 hours in a peaceful silent protest that has attracted attention, and support, from school officials.

Dana Greene Jr., a UM alum who attends the School of Public Health, started his vigil facing a flag at the block “M” on the Diag in Ann Arbor early Monday. He recently wrote to university President Mark Schlissel to explain his stance, saying he was inspired after watching “many black men take a knee during our country’s national anthem to bring attention to the inequality in this country.”

“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,” he wrote, according to school representatives.

Greene added that kneeling was important “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 are better than this.”

Hundreds of classmates and many student groups joined Greene throughout the day, bringing food and water as temperatures soared into the 90s, UM said.

Several school leaders, including Provost Martin Philbert and Victor Strecher, professor of health behavior and health education, met with him 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, talked with Greene on the phone and planned to meet Wednesday, UM said.

“I share with many the belief that our institution and our nation do not always live up to our highest ideals, including the equal rights we hold dear. To me, the American flag represents many things, including those very rights,” Schlissel said in a statement Monday.

“...I want to work together with all our campus community to make U-M a more welcoming and inclusive place. I hope that despite the differences that exist here and in our nation, we can unite in the name of equality and justice for all.”