‘Ole Miss’ Debates Campus Traditions With Confederate Roots – by SANDRA KNISPEL October 25, 2014 6:04 PM ET


University of Mississippi football is riding high these days; they’re undefeated and one of the top three teams in the nation.Mississippi Rebels fans cheer for their team prior to their game on October 18. The University of Mississippi has been in an ongoing effort to distance the state's flagship academic institution from its segregationist history.

Mississippi Rebels fans cheer for their team prior to their game on October 18. The University of Mississippi has been in an ongoing effort to distance the state’s flagship academic institution from its segregationist history.

Michael Chang/Getty Images

University of Mississippi football is riding high these days; they’re undefeated and one of the top three teams in the nation.

But as Ole Miss fans come together to root for their team, many other traditions are coming under scrutiny. The school’s been engaged in a long-running effort to remove potentially divisive, and racially charged symbols, to try and make the campus more “welcoming.”

At the corner of Fraternity Row, a short lane that runs past a chapel used to be called “Confederate Drive.” Newly painted over, the unassuming white street post now reads “Chapel Lane.”

“Obviously the name Confederate Drive can be seen as divisive by some people and could be seen as an effort by the university to embrace an ancient idea,” says university spokesman Danny Blanton.

A state historical sign marks the Confederate Soldiers Cemetery on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford, Miss.i

A state historical sign marks the Confederate Soldiers Cemetery on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford, Miss.

Emily Wagster Pettus/AP

The sign change is part of the latest effort to improve the public image of Mississippi’s flagship state school, and with it the ability to recruit and retain more minorities. Last year, freshmen were for the first time required to learn about Mississippi history and race relations.

Next, the school will place signs adding historical context to potentially controversial sites, like a statue of the Confederate soldier in the middle of campus. These changes come after a series of ugly race incidents; one egregious event happened in February, when a noose was hung around the neck of the statue of James Meredith, the first African American to attend the university.

“I did actually have a pretty big emotional breakdown. I came to campus and I, in all honesty, didn’t want my feet to even touch the pavement,” says Courtney Pearson.

Article continues:

http://www.npr.org/2014/10/25/358871799/ole-miss-debates-campus-traditions-with-confederate-roots

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