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Ceremony Honors Survivors

The First 100 Days of Protest event was held at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, to support the survivors of the late former U‑M doctor Robert Anderson. Rebekah Modrak, a professor at the Stamps School, was the organizer. 

Several months ago, I had a conversation with Chuck Christian, an alum of the UM School of Art & Design, about the challenges he faced as an athlete and a Black man navigating the culture of the art school,” said Modrak. This conversation, and others involving survivors, led Silke-Maria Weineck, Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Comparative Literature and German Studies, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, LSA, and I to start an initiative to address the emotional toll and sense of loss suffered by Mr. Christian, as well as two other Anderson survivors — Jon Vaughn and Tad DeLuca — as well as to show gratitude for their courage and tenacity, and to honor the dedication of Mark West, the DPSS officer.” 

4 men stand with arms around each other's shoulders
L‑R: Tad DeLuca, Mark West, Chuck Christian, and Jon Vaughn

During his time at U‑M, Chris­t­ian (Stamps BFA 82) studied painting with faculty such as Professor Al Hinton, who also transitioned between being a football player and artist, and Ted Ramsey, while also encountering bias against him as an artist-athlete and an African American. In the 40 years since his graduation, Christian has created murals, trompe l’oeils, decorative paintings, and canvas paintings in Boston, MA. His painting commissions in homes and businesses treat­ a whole house as a canvas.” He is a survivor of assault by U‑M ath­letic doc­tor Bob Ander­son. His activism began two years ago when he was in hospice care. He has been interviewed by HBO, ESPN, CBS Good Morning, The Detroit News, and Cosmopolitan.

Chuck Christian speaks at a podium in the Museum

Christian’s work as a football player and his lifelong career as an artist involve a high level of discipline and an ability to work through challenges. He has challenged preconceptions of the disconnect between sports and art, noting that both disciplines involve physical endurance, emotional sensitivities, and the navigation of tensions between natural talent and learned skill and ideation.

At the ceremony, Stamps Professor Nick Tobier paid tribute to Christian and presented him with, on behalf of Stamps Gallery Director Srimoyee Mitra, an invitation to exhibit his work at the Stamps Gallery this Autumn 2022

Nick Tobier presents Chuck Christian with a letter from Stamps Gallery

Professors Weineck and Allison Alexy, Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Culture in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of Women’s Studies, presented an unofficial diploma for Honorary Bachelor of Justice” to Jon Vaughn. Mr. Vaughn was capped with a blue velvet tam and accepted the People’s Diploma” in tears. He phoned organizers the next day to say, This document is one of the things I’m most proud of in my life.”

Professors Weineck and Allison Alexy present an unofficial diploma to Jon Vaughn

The ceremony continued with Stefan Szymanski, the Stephen J. Galetti Collegiate Professor of Sport Management, School of Kinesiology, reading a tribute to Tad DeLuca from student athlete Job Mayhue and presenting him with a flag signed by predominantly UM student athletes. In his remarks, Tad described his inability to go near campus for years after graduating and said that the tribute was a step toward making him feel whole again.”

Stefan Szymanski presents a U-M Wolverine flag signed by student athletes to Tad DeLuca

The event concluded with the survivors presenting a bronze medal to Officer West, engraved with his portrait drawn by Christian and the inscription Your Work is Why We Stand.” The box holding the medal was lined with velvet by Stamps lecturer Heather Phillips.