February 24th, 2014 12:40 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: Georgia, Ole Miss, recruiting, UM
I remove my hat and tip it Ole Miss coaches Hugh Freeze and Andy Kennedy. Those guys must be world-class salesmen. Considering the history at their school — and the never-ending string of reminders of that history — it’s dadgum incredible that they can recruit African-American males to play for their respective squads.
You know the latest story by now, of course. Last Sunday a statue of James Meredith — the first black student at the University of Mississippi — was found to have a noose around its neck and an old Georgia state flag — complete with the Confederate battle flag — draped over it. Meredith rose to fame when the federal government stepped in to protect him as it pushed for the desegregation the school in 1962.
Three freshman from the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity — who happened to be Georgia natives — were booted from the fraternity before the the frat itself was suspended by it national office. The three buffoons could face some very serious, life-altering charges if the FBI views that noose as a racial threat against black students on the Ole Miss campus.
The incident made national news from The LA Times to The New York Times. Back came reminders of the National Guard, Governor Ross Barnett, the race riots that took place in Oxford at the time of Meredith’s enrollment. (ESPN recently chronicled that episode in a “30 for 30″ special titled “Ghosts of Ole Miss.”)
After the long list of UM controversies come the inevitable reminders of what Ole Miss has tried to do to improve matters on its campus: no more Confederate flags at ballgames, no more Colonel Reb mascot, no more “From Dixie With Love” with its chant of “The South will rise again” before football games.
But as an editorial in The Daily Mississippian — UM’s student newspaper — stated last week, nothing seems to work:
“This is disgraceful. But what makes it all the worse is that it is another disgraceful moment in a series of disgraceful moments. We are racking them up and bolstering the stereotypes that are ingrained within the national consciousness. And we, The Daily Mississippian, continue to write editorials about them. The campus continues to hold candlelight vigils. The administration continues to create committees, send apologetic emails and preach to us about our Creed. The Alumni Association offers rewards.
But still nothing has changed. These events continue to happen semester after semester and year after year. All of our actions seem fruitless and impotent, leaving us broken, scared, humiliated and with burning, difficult questions: What do we do about it? How do we stop these events from transpiring?”
Rather damning — and bravely honest — from the school’s newspaper, no?
Fair or not, the University of Mississippi’s history is tied to racism. The Confederacy’s economy — everything about the Old South, for that matter — was based on slavery. Yet the school’s athletic teams are called the Rebels in a reference to the Confederate States of America. The school’s athletic teams often wear gray in addition to their red and navy colors. Hell, the statue of Meredith isn’t far from a memorial to Confederate soldiers on the UM campus.
It is impossible to separate the school or its sports teams from the Confederacy and the racism that was ingrained in that institution.
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