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Celebrating Unwavering Courage this Homecoming

  • Author:

    Bob Thomas
    Assistant Vice President, Advancement Marketing & Communications, Interim Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations

  • Published:

    October 2, 2018

Just like Spartans everywhere, the Homecoming Committee was shaken to its core by the horrifying abuse committed by Larry Nassar. We struggled with how our Spartan pride could withstand this dark and shameful chapter of our history. How could we rally a wounded community together? How could we focus both on the qualities that have always made us proud to be Spartans while also spotlighting the work and courage of those who call attention to our shortcomings and fight to make our community better, safer, and more inclusive?

When Ernest Green’s name was floated as the 2018 Homecoming Grand Marshal, there was no discussion. The decision was unanimous on the first vote. That is not how it usually goes down. With so many deserving Spartans out there, a lot of lively debate typically precedes the Grand Marshal selection.  However, Ernest Green was the right choice and everyone could feel it. As a university whose whole legacy was built upon the land-grant mission, diversity, accessibility and equal rights for all are at the core of who we are. Ernest Green, a member of the Little Rock Nine, represented those ideals, and it felt good to think about coming together as a Spartan community and celebrating what he represented.

In January 2018, the Homecoming Committee was again struggling to develop a theme for the 2018 Homecoming. The Nassar story was continuing to unfold. More and more survivors were coming forward and the #MeToo movement made sexual assault and harassment a national focus. Thus the theme “Celebrating Unwavering Courage” was born.

When Ernest Green first stepped foot on the grounds of Central High School, he did so knowing that he would not be welcomed. Knowing that he could fight to make our country a place that was better, safer, and more inclusive, Ernest Green walked through the doors of Central High School, at great personal cost and risk.

When the survivors of Larry Nassar began to come forward, they too had absolutely no idea what to expect. And there are thousands more sexual assault survivors on this campus and in our Spartan community who are living courageously each and every day. They are glad that the Nassar survivors found justice and that they have been lifted up. They are also outraged that the Nassar victims were not initially believed, and that many of them were not believed either. They are courageous, resilient and they are doing amazing work here at MSU as students, faculty and staff, and as Spartans across the globe.

Doing the right thing can take great courage. Ernest Green and the Sister Survivors took the hard road and fought to make sure no one else has to go through what they went through. We are committed to showing the same courage now as an institution that Ernest Green did in attending Little Rock Central High School in the fall of 1957. And we ask you to join us in Celebrating Unwavering Courage.

Between now and our Homecoming football game on October 6, the MSU Alumni Association will be highlighting a Spartan individual or group daily that has demonstrated the courage necessary to make the world a better place. We invite you to join us by using #MSUHomecoming. If you choose to do so through Facebook, you can add a custom Homecoming frame to your pictures. Follow the Alumni Association on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to see a few of the many courageous Spartans who are focused on doing the right thing.  I have personally taken my own small step by donating to the Firecracker Foundation, a local nonprofit organization that provides holistic healing to survivors of child sexual assault.

Undoing systemic failures within our communities is not easy work. It takes bravery to walk through those doors or to say the words me too. But when more of us join forces, it becomes a little easier to be brave. Like Ernest Green, the Sister Survivors, and countless other Spartans around the globe, you can be a force for good.  If you see or hear of an injustice, stand up against it, say something or do something about it.  Make a difference by having the wisdom to know the right thing to do, and by having the courage to do it.

Bob Thomas
Assistant Vice President, Advancement Marketing & Communications, Interim Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations