REPORT: University of Missouri Hunger Striker’s Family an American Success Story

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Black Lives Matter-influenced activist Jonathan Butler became radicalized at the University of Missouri, despite his family’s reported multi-generational success and affluence. Even though his well-educated family is the epitome of the American Dream, Butler was drawn towards communist heroes like terrorist Assata Shakur and Franz Fanon in college.

The University of Missouri activist grabbed headlines when he became the public face of the movement that successfully forced out two top administrators on Monday. However, Jonathan Butler’s own family story directly contradicts his radical narrative and shows that black Americans can succeed and prosper in the United States, particularly if they apply hard work and a base of traditional religious values.

Butler’s father is Eric Butler, an Executive Vice President with Union Pacific Railroad, according to the Omaha World-Herald. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Mr. Butler made $8.4 million in 2014.

His company bio lists his considerable achievements:

Eric Butler was named executive vice president-Marketing and Sales in March 2012. In this position, he is responsible for Union Pacific’s six major business units: agriculture, automobiles, chemicals, energy, industrial products and intermodal. Collectively, the business units account for nearly $20 billion in annual revenue. He also oversees the railroad’s National Customer Service Center.

Previously, Butler had been vice president and general manager-Industrial Products, a position he had held since April 2005, after serving two years as vice president and general manager-Automotive. Since joining the railroad in 1986, Butler has held a number of positions including vice president-Supply, vice president-Planning and Analysis, and director-Corporate Compensation.

Butler graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1981 and an MSIA in 1986, both from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

However, the hard work and success of Jonathan Butler’s father doesn’t end there; he has also made the time to focus on the spiritual life of his community. Eric Butler is also a pastor with a church he founded in Omaha, the Joy of Life Ministries. He wife, Cynthia Ellis, is co-pastor:

Professionally, Evangelist Butler is an educator. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education; a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration. She is currently Executive Director of the Purpose Driven Advocacy Center, which provides tutoring, advocacy, and life-advancement services to the community.

Affluent radical Jonathan Butler’s grandparents are “the late Attorney/Pastor John and Dr. Fay Ellis Butler of Brooklyn, New York. Superintendent John Butler was the founding pastor of Salvation and Restoration COGIC of Brooklyn, New York.

Butler’s grandmother, Fay Ellis Baker, also has a distinguished resume. Her biography on her Christian book Rejection: The Ruling says Mrs Baker states:

Was raised in the Church of God in Christ, a daughter of a pastor, Rev. R.N. Ellis, Sr. After completing her secondary education in the public schools of New York City, she attended Bellevue/New York University School of Nursing and became a Registered Nurse. Later, graduating from Queens College (City University of New York) with honors, she received two Masters and a PH.D. in Medical Anthropology from Columbia University.

The successes of this American black family extend to other relatives as well. Jonathan’s aunt, Fay Maureen Butler, is “a graduate of William Smith College, she has also received two Masters Degrees and a Doctorate, all from Columbia University.”

Butler Was Radicalized At University

How did Jonathan Butler, a child of wealth who grew up around hard work and capitalist success, become a radical?

Like rich kid turned Students for a Democratic Society bomber Bill Ayers and the well coifed revolutionaries of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the radicalization can be traced to the ivory tower of education.

This isn’t conjecture. A recent article in the Missourian paper written by UM’s journalism students lays it all out in an uncritical fashion. The Missourian article attempts to paint the picture of a “deepening divide between white students and students of color” at his Nebraska high School, but a quote from the article by Butler doesn’t paint that grim of a picture:

“It was that phenomenon — that’s where we felt safe, that’s where we felt at home,” Butler said. “People would bring their speakers, their CD players. We would play music. It was always this great time.”

Butler began at the University of Missouri as a business major but began “reading the radical authors” in his senior year like Stokely Carmichael and Frantz Fanon.

The article on Butler says, “These authors, among others, are why Butler considers himself a radical. This isn’t to say he’s a political extremist, but he thinks about radicalism as ‘grabbing things by the root.'”

It’s unclear why the article says Butler isn’t a “political extremist,” although when an avowed socialist like Sen. Bernie Sanders is running for president, it may be an accurate assessment of our political age.

Franz Fanon was a Marxist revolutionary philosopher, who was also an inspiration to the 1960s Black Panther Party and also to the 1968 student strike at San Francisco State that served as a template in many ways for what happened in Missouri in 2015.

A section of the article entitled “Activism” explains more about Butler’s radicalization.

The more Butler read, the more radical he became. For him, that meant making people aware of institutional systems that dole out power to a lucky few while taking it away from others.

“The Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” a book by Paulo Freire, made Butler rethink these systems and reach for freedom — “freedom of mind, physical freedom, freedom from systems,” he said.

Apparently, Butler’s family was among “the lucky few.”

Paulo Freire was a socialist writer known for the belief that education should serve a social purpose of allowing oppressed people to regain their sense of humanity. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire wrote:

No pedagogy which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the oppressors. The oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption.

The article about Butler concludes:

Many strings remain loose, including whether real race relations reform will come to MU or whether the president’s successor will be different than Wolfe in the eyes of the movement community.

From Butler’s perspective, though, he took the important step from reading about radicalism to making it his own. He spun the wheels of change at MU.

Doubtlessly, the Mizzou Effect will be felt at college campuses in the coming months as more socialist-inspired radical elitists force the agendas of their leftist faculties.


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