University of Michigan
News for Faculty and Staff

August 16, 2018

U-M community rallies around student kneeling on Diag

September 25, 2017

U-M community rallies around student kneeling on Diag

Topic: Campus News

Members of the University of Michigan community came together Monday on the Central Campus Diag to support a graduate student who spent the entire day kneeling in front of the Block M in silent protest because, he said, "we can all be better than this."

Dana Greene Jr., a U-M graduate and current graduate student in the School of Public Health, wrote to President Mark Schlissel to explain "Why I kneel" before taking his position on the Diag about 6 a.m. Monday. He was expected to stay on the Diag for 24 hours.

"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," Greene wrote.

"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 are better than this."

This simple act by one student, supported by his fellow students, sparked a groundswell of support from students, faculty and staff across the campus community. Schlissel, out of town on university business, spoke with Greene on the phone to offer his support. Schlissel and Greene plan to meet Wednesday.

Later Monday in a statement, Schlissel 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.

"Today, one of our students began kneeling in front of the flag on our Diag to demonstrate for justice and equal rights. I support his right to engage in peaceful protest. I have spoken to the student, and we plan to meet as soon as I am back on campus. 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."

Support for Greene came from all corners of the university community.

Hundreds of students and many student groups joined Greene at times throughout the day. They brought food and water and provided shelter from the heat — the high temperature in Ann Arbor Monday reached 94 degrees.

University Health Service physician Michael Corrigan stopped by to make sure Greene was getting enough fluids. Provost Martin Philbert and Victor Strecher, professor of health behavior and health education in SPH, met with Greene on the Diag. Vice President for Student Life E. Royster Harper and Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones spent much of the day on the Diag talking with Greene and others.

SPH Interim Dean Cathleen M. Connell visited the Diag along with other SPH faculty members and many others. Student Life staff members were staying with Greene overnight. The student counseling center known as CAPS provided yoga mats for the scores of kneeling students that formed a semi-circle around Greene.

Greene wrote that he was motivated to take his place on the Diag 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."

Tags: Diag, protest


Vincent Elie
on 9/25/17 at 9:57 pm

Thank-you from an alumnus.

on 9/25/17 at 11:56 pm

Amen, brother. A powerful statement and a powerful demonstration.

Brian Athey
on 9/26/17 at 3:30 am

Dear Mr. Greene: You make us proud to stand up for what is right and what we all need to fight for! Thank you, Brian Athey (Medical School)

Jane Shirley
on 9/26/17 at 7:37 am

No statement from the university as to why they allowed these "justice warriors" to block traffic, causing people to be late?

Jim Preston
on 9/27/17 at 1:24 pm

What are you late for, your Klan meeting?

Peter Venkman
on 9/26/17 at 7:53 am

Man, the traffic on the diag was terrible that day! Dang justice warriors causing all those pedestrians to have to walk even more!

Jane Shirley
on 9/26/17 at 8:03 am

Protestors were blocking the roads. Many of us had to wait through it. Move the protestors off the roads.

Peter Venkman
on 9/26/17 at 8:09 am

Welcome to Ann Arbor :-)

Carola Carlier
on 9/26/17 at 8:59 am

Folks, it's a time when neo-nazis seem to be ok with the US Pres but someone kneeling in silent protest is an SOB. Discrimination, hate speech, and killing innocent people of color are regular occurrences, and presidential weenywaving may be getting us into war. I am just fine with waiting in traffic while people are voicing protest. Thank you, Dana. <3

David Outcalt
on 9/26/17 at 11:49 am

Very well said, Carola, thank you. I have 3 children and 3 grandchildren with another grandchild on the way. None of them are white, they are all of mixed race and I am a very proud father and grandfather. I've been speaking out against racism and inequality for many years, and if only I had a dime for every time someone said "Then why don't you just leave." Well I did leave - twice, but now I'm back in the country where I was born, feeling deeply saddened by the sickeningly divisive words of a racist, arrogant narcissist disguised as president. Thank you, Dana. As you say, we can do better than this. A lot better.

Jane Shirley
on 9/26/17 at 2:32 pm

How many times has someone taken a knee to protest black on black crime?

Mary Bogaudo
on 9/26/17 at 5:16 pm

Because that would take away their victimhood status. They want extra special attention and protesting black on black crime would just cause people to look down on them instead of as victims demanding attention.

University Record
on 10/22/17 at 9:53 am

A reply to the previous comment was removed for violating the Record's comment guidelines.

cathy Kendrick
on 9/26/17 at 8:12 am

My hope is that we will do better then this. I applaud this young man for having the strength of character to peacefully support a hope for all of us. it is easy to stand in a crowd , yell, scream and throw things but it takes great courage to stand alone.

salah younis
on 9/26/17 at 8:50 am

I support the student who kneeled in silence protesting the injustice and inequality and divisions thereof in the much admired American society . I salute him and wish the American people peace health and prosperity . That student reminds me of Ghandi . Silence led to a more powerful protest . Good Luck ! S.N.Younis ( graduate of U of M '74)

Tina Ronders
on 9/26/17 at 8:27 am

Dana Greene, Jr.: Thank you for kneeling on the Diag in support of what you believe in. That is what our country says it is about: Freedom. Freedom for her people to speak up and and speak out, even in silence, to share beliefs freely and without hatred. You are right; we are not equal. Until we can admit that now, understand our past and work to change our future, no one will ever be equal.

Patricia Anderson
on 9/26/17 at 8:31 am

One man, one voice can make a difference. Thank you for your courage and dedication to the cause. It was never about the flag it was to bring light to the injustice and prejudices though out the entire United States. Are we one nation, is there justice for all? Think about it.

Tina Creguer
on 9/26/17 at 9:50 am

So beautiful and powerful. Thank you, my friend. And my gratitude to all who supported this young man.

Elizabeth LaPorte
on 9/26/17 at 10:02 am

This was a patriotic act and wonderful that so many supported it.

on 9/26/17 at 10:44 am

While I support justice and equality for all, and totally agree that the hate has to stop in this country, I would like to offer a point for careful consideration. I ask people to please understand the impact of this act upon our veterans.
My father served in WWII as a firefighter on,and saw horribly things. My uncle was one of the first liberators of the concentration camps.
In the heat of battle, fighting all of that injustice and hatred, when they saw that flag, or heard the National Anthem, those symbols gave them the courage to go on, even at the sacrifice of a soldier's life for what is right and good in this world.
When you kneel, they interpret that as NOT respecting all that they did to help others, to give them better lives. They view this as a disrespect for them, for the love they showed others.
So when you kneel, please remember that others interpret this a different way.
The sad reality is that we all are working for the same thing, but our ways of expressing it are causing division because we don't understand each other. Taking the time to understand each other is really what we need to do. That is what is truly needed.

on 9/26/17 at 2:34 pm

There are a ton of vets that are kneeling as well. So, now what else do you have for us to consider?

J. B.
on 9/27/17 at 7:49 am

Exactly. Many vets support this movement. They fought for the freedom that allows Americans to participate in these kinds of protests.

on 9/26/17 at 3:59 pm

We still have a long way to go in this society. JG, my father served in Korea. When he got home from the war, he went home to segregation that was telling him he was not equal to some of his fellow soldiers all because of his skin color. I take your point and agree with it, but sadly we still do not seem to understand each other . I admire Dana's protest.

J. B.
on 9/27/17 at 7:50 am

I support this student and this movement. Had I been on campus, I would have joined in. <3

on 9/28/17 at 4:48 am

Thank you, Dana for standing or "kneeling" in this case, for what you believe in.
Despite, the above criticism for the method or the means, it was certainly an peaceful and effective way to keep the conversation going about the lack of tolerance of our differences, and the dearth of equity in our society today.

on 9/28/17 at 10:30 am

Ok, so everyone is "taking a Knee" what, if you want to be an agent for change...then change it. Keeling for 10 mins or 24 hours isn't going to make a change. It needs to come from within, daily. Silent about just quitting the actions and mentioning it to those who are doing it? A conversation needs to be had...not a bunch of protesters. I never really did understand the concept. And, just to save the internet from a backlash, I don't need to be educated on protests of the past, I've lived through quite a few.

Jeff Beal
on 10/04/17 at 4:33 pm

What absolute self-serving, self gratifying self congratulatory nonsense. If you really wanted to take a stand against something how about the millions of dollars being wasted on a bloated university administrative staff that keeps driving up the cost of tuition to the point were ordinary middle class people can no longer afford it. But that's real work-

Eren Yildiz
on 10/06/17 at 3:04 am

Think of how America started. This country was founded by a group of slave-owners who told us all men are created equal. This was a small group of unelected, white, male, land-holding, slave-owners who also suggested their class be the only one allowed to vote.

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.