A University of Missouri police officer has been fired after a photo emerged of him wearing blackface.

The image of a man made up as rapper Flava Flav was sent to the university Tuesday morning and office Marcus Collins was fired a few hours later after admitting it was him in the image.

Chancellor Alexander Cartwright issued a statement, saying the university will not tolerate racist behavior.

“Racism, hate and insensitive behavior have no place on our campus,” Cartwright said. “We are committed to our values of respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence, and to making our campus a place where everyone feels welcome and protected.”

Collins was hired by MU police in January 2018, spokesman Christian Basi said. The image, which was sent to the Tribune by an anonymous source, is undated.

"Once we were able to verify it was Collins in the photo and Collins acknowledged that, shortly after a discussion with top university officials, he was terminated," Basi said.

The fast action by MU won praise from a local activist group, Race Matters, Friends, but raises questions about how thoroughly the university investigated Collins and the motives for acting so quickly, said Stephen Graves, director of undergraduate studies in the MU Black Studies Department.

"Any time you have gotten a photo by 9 a.m. and by 11:30 that person is fired, it had to have been a hell of a conversation," Graves said. "I think you do society a disservice when you don’t allow for conversation and the police officer involved to explain himself. That person needs to step in front of a camera and explain the behavior, the who, what, where, why and when."

Race Matters, Friends, in a statement, contrasted the fast action of MU with the lengthy review underway by the Columbia Police Department of an officer who used a social media account to spread messages that suggested racial and gender bias.

“To RMF, the termination of the MUPD officer is a demonstration of anti-black culture that resides not only in their organization but also in CPD, as recently exemplified by the case of Lt. Brian Tate,” the group said in a joint statement. “RMF says bravo to MUPD for firing the officer, but a loud boo hiss to CPD for harboring and continuing to keep Tate on the payroll, despite his display of blatantly racist ideology using social media.”

Columbia Police Department found Tate breached agency policy when he, over the course of several years, posted a number of controversial and derogatory statements on Twitter, exhibiting angst about police reform groups and denigrating people for their demographics.

Tate was indefinitely assigned to duty with “limited interaction with the public” following the department’s findings. Columbia police say they are also reviewing any cases he worked with as a supervisor in the internal affairs unit.

“The offenses by both officers are both abhorrent,” Race Matters, Friends said. “To say the departments need to do better is an understatement. In order for any kind of policing to be transformative, the leadership must take up an explicit organizational philosophy that is grounded in anti-racist values and practices.”

White people wearing blackface has made numerous headlines in recent months, most notably revelations of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s admission he did so in the 1980s while at medical school.

Blackface makeup has its roots in the minstrel shows that began touring the United States before the Civil War. White performers would adopt exaggerated characters based on the stereotypical image of happy-go-lucky slaves on southern plantations, said Gary Kremer, director of the State Historical Society of Missouri and a scholar who specializes in the history of blacks in Missouri.

Sometimes blackface was also used by white actors in movies such as 1915s “The Birth of a Nation” to portray blacks as evil. The practice remained common through the 1950s and one of the most popular radio programs, “Amos ‘n’ Andy,” featured two white actors portraying the black main characters from 1928 to 1960.

The backlash against blackface has become much stronger in recent years. In 1999, Gov. Mel Carnahan was able to survive a controversy over a photo from 1960 showing him performing in blackface at a Kiwannis club show in Rolla.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who admonished Northam for his actions, days later also admitted wearing blackface in 1980 while in college, the Associated Press reported. The U.S. Marine Corps. in late February also announced it is investigating a video of two men in corps uniforms dressed in blackface and using racial slurs, according to multiple media reports.

Northam has survived "because he refused to leave and the chain of command has as many problems as he does," Kremer said. "There is a much higher level of sensitivity to negative stereotypes than there was 10 or 15 or 20 years ago."

The stronger reaction today is because blacks have much more political and economic power than they had in the past, Graves said. The outrage over an image like that of Collins is magnified and the speed of the reaction is vastly increased because of social media and the internet, he said.

Everyone's actions, including Collins', need to be seen in context, Graves said.

"You are always going to go back and find something that someone did wrong," he said. "How good or bad it is for our society, I am not 100 percent sure. It is going to be hard to find perfect angels to do this job."