The student government at the University of Mississippi voted Tuesday to remove the state flag from campus. The flag contains the Confederate battle flag, and flies near a monument to Confederate soldiers on campus.
The Student Senate voted Tuesday night 33-15 to remove the flag, with one person abstaining. That followed a protest against the flag on Friday afternoon by the student chapter of the NAACP. Six non-students from the International Keystone Knights, a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group, showed up to counter-protest, leading to a brief verbal confrontation before campus police intervened:
After the vote to remove the flag passed, student body executives issued a statement congratulating the student legislators for “prioritizing students’ interests above personal amibition and prejudice.”
The controversy is taking over the school’s Facebook page, and opinions, as you might guess, are divided:
Ole Miss has been (very) slowly pulling away from using Confederate symbolism to represent the school. In 1982, cheerleaders would sing “Dixie” while the Confederate flag waved at football games. But John Hawkins, the school’s first black cheerleader, refused to wave the flag, and by 1998, the school’s then-chancellor prohibited the Confederate flag from being brought into the stadium either by cheerleaders or by fans.
While Ole Miss’s football team is still called the Rebels,the university stopped using Colonel Reb (a Colonel Sanders-looking white Southerner leaning on a cane) as its mascot in 2003. He was replaced in 2010 by Rebel Black Bear, who is a bear.
Ole Miss student Jasmine Williams protests the flag, Friday October 16. Screengrab via YouTube/Morgan Teller