Old South rising again
When Joe McNamee was arrested for handing out Confederate flags at Forest Hill High School in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1989, Perry Sansing, the lawyer for the school, pressed for McNamee's conviction. McNamee won. Sansing lost. The issue was whether the school board chairman, Negress Ollye Shirley, could summarily change the school's longstanding Confederate emblems, which had been adopted by vote of the students. McNamee then scheduled a protest at the school to support the Confederate flag, which was the official emblem of the school, and the term Rebels, which was the school's nickname, patterned after the Ole Miss Rebels, whose official symbol was, also, the Confederate flag and whose mascot was Colonel Reb.
Whites had begun to evacuate the capital city in protest against integration and Negroes were being forced into various offices under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which gave preferential treatment to Negroes. Notwithstanding, McNamee stubbornly contended that Whites Have Rights. When Shirley banned his meeting, McNamee sued. Sansing defended on the grounds that segregation and the Confederate flag should not be allowed in the school and that Confederate insignias were "offensive" to Negroes. McNamee, represented by Richard Barrett and backed by The Nationalist Movement Legal Defense Fund, won in Forest Hill Spirit Boosters v. Jackson Public School District in 1990, citing the Terminiello case in which the United States Supreme Court had ruled that free speech "should" be "offensive," in order to be truly free.
Federal judge Tom Lee issued an injunction against the school and awarded attorney fees to McNamee. Sansing's father, David Sansing, a leftist professor at the University of Mississippi, was so incensed that he embarked upon a campaign of his own to abolish the Confederate flag at Ole Miss. He was, eventually, joined by William Winter in a drive to abolish the Confederate flag as the official state flag. Sansing was immediately challenged by Rip Walker, an Ole Miss student from McCluer Academy, a segregated private school which had become a refuge from the plummeting Jackson public schools. Robert E. Lee McCampbell of Memphis supplied funds for Walker to distribute Rebel flags on campus, as Kappa Alpha Fraternity, which displayed the portrait of Robert E. Lee and promoted Old South honor and heritage, mounted its own flag-defense.
Coaches Billy Brewer, Tommy Tuberville, Steve Sloan and Bob Tyler departed under pressure from students and alumni for backing anti-flag efforts, but the Black Caucus continued to lobby against Confederate symbols. A massive statue of a Confederate soldier guards the campus entrance and Confederate soldiers are buried on campus. The University Greys, made up of Ole Miss students, was one of the most heroic units, which suffered the most casualties, in the Civil War. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People meanwhile came out in favor of abolishing all Confederate symbols, taking aim not only at the Confederate flag, but at Colonel Reb, the image of a Southern gentleman patterned after Robert E. Lee, the nickname Rebels, which signified those who had rebelled against the Union during the Civil War, and the term Ole Miss, itself, which was the term of respect used by slaves for the wife of their master.
The organization, also, pushed for Negroes to be forced into Ole Miss, especially on the football team, to supplant the school's historically white traditions, while preserving what it termed the "historically black" genre of Negro colleges. Ronnie Musgrove supported the Black Caucus in his bid for Governor, rewarding Negroes by supporting abolition of the state flag, which contained the Confederate flag, and supporting Khayat's moves to ban the flag at Ole Miss. When Khayat purported to ban the flag at football games, where flag-waving had been a popular expression of school spirit and opposition to integration, fans showed up with flag placards to wave instead. When Khayat was sued, the judge, Neal Biggers, who had been Trent Lott's roommate, ruled against the flag, but the people voted two-to-one for the flag.
Sansing had joined Archie Manning, John Vaught and Mary Ann Mobley in opposing the flag, but McNamee, Al Roland and Barrett had backed it. Winter had attempted to get the state legislature to abolish the Confederate flag without a vote of the people. The NAACP had, even, sued in order to get a judge to change the Confederate flag to a replica of the Red Chinese flag. In an amicus curiae brief in the Mississippi Supreme Court, Barrett argued that the Legislature, not the courts, had jurisdiction, that the issue was up to the electorate and that segregation was the moral and legal imperative of a free people.
The court bowed out and lawmakers submitted the flag to popular vote. Lott, an Ole Miss cheerleader who had been elected as a staunch segregationist, then embraced the Black Caucus, endorsed Martin Luther King, supported "affirmative-action" and said that Colonel Reb should be taken away "quietly." Students, however, refused to "go quietly." Arthur Baker risked being arrested for defying Khayat and flying the flag, sparking a campus revolt. Roland stated that "we will not go away gracefully" and began a sticker-distribution campaign, sponsored by the segregationist Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor to the White Citizens Council, entitled Save Colonel Reb.
Student Brian Ferguson kicked off his own effort entitled Save Ole Miss, featuring stickers proclaiming Colonel Reb Is My Mascot and sponsoring a gigantic rally on campus of cheering Colonel-Reb fans. The Crosstar Internet site took up the battle against Khayat, who had ordered the mascot changed, without a vote, and Roland submitted the Colonel, himself, to Khayat's rigged replacement "contest." Billy Harthcock, a member of the Ole Miss Rebel football team during the Sixties, wrote to Crosstar, calling for a boycott.
Boycott called for
I assume you are supporting the fight to keep the Colonel Reb mascot. If so, I agree wholeheartedly. Maybe you have a good enough mailing list to call for a boycott. It is my opinion that ... other heritage symbols at Ole Miss will continue to fall (even the name Ole Miss). The only way it will be reversed is if a large enough group boycotts Ole Miss events, i.e. football games, other sports events, etc.... I played football at Ole Miss, but to me the true Ole Miss doesn't exist anymore and I for one will not support the University in any way.
When Ole Miss was completely segregated and Old South zeal was at its zenith, the Rebels, quarterbacked by Glynn Griffing, captured the national football championship in 1960. Students rioted to keep a Negro out in 1962. And the I Love Mississippi speech by Governor Ross Barnett, in defense of the school and segregation, is considered to be a highlight of Mississippi's Glory Days. The following year, George Wallace electrified the nation by "standing in the schoolhouse door" to oppose integration. Kirk Fordice was elected Governor by opposing the Civil Rights Bill and declaring that he would call out the National Guard to prevent more Negroes from being forced into Ole Miss.
Rising again, indeed
And, Lott, who had touted Robert E. Lee, addressed the Council of Conservative Citizens and stated that the modern Republican Party was carrying on the principles of Jefferson Davis, was catapulted to the most powerful post on Capitol Hill. Following the Confederate flag vote, pundits stated that the Old South was, indeed, "rising again." Meanwhile, Sansing switched from trying to abolish Confederate symbols to claiming that the insignias actually did not represent segregation or the Old South, at all, but, somehow, stood for integration or, even, for the Negro. The ludicrous notion had played out two years earlier when George Kalas, a mixed-breed Indian, claimed that the Confederate flag actually stood for Indians, Mexicans and Negroes.
He, even, paraded a Negro around in public dressed up in a Confederate uniform, but vanished when Mississippians voted overwhelmingly for the flag. Following the flag vote, Michael Barefield, a Gulfport lawyer, issued a statement demanding that Mississippians "apologize" to "African-Americans." He received no takers. His cohort, Michael McHenry, then issued a statement calling segregationists "weird" and insisted that they should not be allowed to distribute stickers or speak on the radio. He, too, faded away. But, attempts to demean or distort Mississippi heritage and derail opposition to demands of the NAACP and Black Caucus have resurfaced on an Internet site purporting to petition in behalf of Colonel Reb, but insisting that to "suggest that Colonel Reb is an icon of ... segregation [is] completely false and unfounded."
Ferguson, on his site, states that "University of Mississippi historian David Sansing has long pointed out that the model for the original Colonel Rebel emblem was a black man." The site depicts Jim Ivy, a Negro peanut vendor in Oxford. The flowing grey coat has been a Southern staple dating back even before the Civil War. It typified the Old-South gentleman, slave-master and plantation-owner, as was typified in the 1939 movie, Gone With the Wind. Robert E. Lee, who remains the South's most revered icon, was often pictured in the garb which would be popularized as the Southern Colonel and, later, Colonel Reb.
Prior to integration, Mississippi Governors traditionally appointed their staff of Colonels, giving the term "Colonel" elevated political and social significance. Other Southern Governors did likewise. Kappa Alpha, a bastion at Ole Miss honor and pride, noted Lee's image and influence in a history published by the Fraternity's University of Virginia Chapter.
Former Knight Commander John Temple Graves, a famous orator of his time, took the floor of the 1923 Convention to make one of his highly romanticized banquet toasts. In a few moments, his eloquence had not only raised the glass of every man in the room, but also captured the attention of the entire Order. Graves' Convention toast heralded Robert E. Lee, and first designated him "spiritual founder" of Kappa Alpha Order. Since then, KAs have referred to Lee as such. The designation Graves coined in 1923 expressed the feeling KAs had held for Lee for almost six decades. The four students who founded KA, and a fifth who wrote the Ritual, were profoundly influenced by Lee. He exemplified for them the highest standards, the most chivalrous conduct and the finest traits of manliness. Today, portraits of Lee are proudly displayed in KA chapter houses, and annually, on the anniversary of Lee's birthday, active and alumni chapters gather for Convivium, a celebration commemorating the founding of KA and Lee's spiritual ties to the Order.
Figurines of smiling slaves are often used on lawns and at gateways. Mark Watts, who successfully fought to prevent Forsyth County, Georgia from being integrated, had such a statuette at his doorstep. But when Harvey Johnson took over as Negro Mayor of Jackson, the San Francisco Examiner carried a front-page photo of the picket-sign opposing him, which stated, No Good Ever Came From the Slaves Taking Over the Plantation, summing up the feelings of most Mississippians. Negro Charles Tisdale, editor of the Jackson-Advocate newspaper, often states that he regards himself as a segregationist. He lambasts Negroes who socialize with whites with all the vigor once summoned up by the White Citizens Council.
Ronnie Kennedy wrote the popular book entitled, The South Was Right, defending segregation. And Hank Williams, Jr. became famous for his ballad, If the South Would Have Won, We'd Have Had It Made. When the NAACP was vying to set up a Negro Congressional district in the Mississippi Delta, it complained that more and more Negroes had to be added to the plan, because too many "Uncle Tom" Negroes would vote for whites. There is nothing untoward about Ferguson having kindly feelings about a colored peanut-vendor, who dressed up in a three-piece suit and embodied the classic and kindly "Uncle Tom," but to try to elevate him above Robert E. Lee would be laughable, were it not so patently absurd and tragic.
Opponents of segregation, the Old South and Ole Miss are not interested in compromise. Black-power forces, which gunned down police Lt. William L. Skinner while attempting to set up their so-called Republic of New Africa, are not content to let Colonel Reb remain or, for that matter, for Ole Miss to continue as a "historically" white institution. True to their name, they want "power," naked, tribal, ruthless power, by which to extinguish everything not only Southern but American. Such is the very "despotism" warned about by Thomas Jefferson in his Inaugural, when he chided that the "minority must aceqisce to the majority, lest there be despotism." So, in supporting Colonel Reb and vying for a vote, Ole Miss students are, actually, carrying on Jeffersonian democracy at its best and they are neither fooled nor cajoled in their struggle.
Let Sansing paint Colonel Reb black and submit him to a vote alongside the present, white Colonel Reb and see just how such a vote would turn out. For that matter, let the students vote on the entire issue of who or what shall be their mascot, once and for all. What is "majority rule" and democracy all about, anyhow? And what greater lesson in civics and good-government could possibly be taught? Ferguson is not the first to try to save something by denying it. Some call his tactics the King Solomon Syndrome. When two women had claimed the same baby, Solomon ordered the infant cut in half. The true mother then denied the child, prompting the king to recognize the rightful mother.
In the same vein, some suggest that by claiming that Colonel Reb is, actually, a Negro, the Black Caucus will not be "offended." The tactic failed to salvage Carry Me Back to Old Virginny by claiming that it referred to a darkie longing for home. Virginia lawmakers, lacking the resolve of Mississippians, bowed to the NAACP and scrapped their venerable state song. Indeed, an icon which conjurs up thoughts of out-of-wedlock births, "gang-bangers," drug-dealers, Los-Angeles rioters and "rappers" might appease the Black Caucus, but would hardly epitomize a University vying to be a flagship for Mississippi and the nation.
Have their own
Besides, Negroes already have their own Jackson State University, which, despite twenty-five years of Ayers litigation, has been unable to attract whites. Lee's own record debunks those who postulate that without Negroes the school will decline and the football team dwindle. In what should be a lesson to all future leaders of the Magnolia State and, indeed, all of America, the Kappa Alpha history notes the impact of Lee on Washington College, in his own day, and inspiration, for our own day.
Lee's acceptance of the presidency was the salvation of the College. The mere word that Lee was heading the institution caused enrollment to triple, from almost 50 to 146 in the first year. Enrollment more than doubled the following year. His name attracted funds to rebuild the College and expand programs and curriculum. Lee preserved traditional education, but added technical subjects such as agriculture, commerce and mechanical and civil engineering. But most important of all was Lee's ability to inspire his faculty and students to excel. Excellence applied not only to academics, but also to general conduct, as illustrated by Lee's statement, "We have but one rule here and that is that every student must be a gentleman." One of the hallmarks of his administration was his personal interest in every student, and students returned his interest with the same affection, devotion, and respect.
Lest the devotion of the University Greys, the pride of Billy Harthcock, the spirit of Rip Walker, the way of life of Glynn Griffing, the courage of Joe McNamee and heritage of the Old South be lost forever, the "gentleman" must remain the Southern Colonel, the embodiment of Robert E. Lee, the Ole Miss mascot, the imperishable Colonel Reb.
1848. The University of Mississippi is founded for the education of white students.
1857. The United States Supreme Court rules that Negroes were never contemplated as citizens by the Founders of the nation and can never be citizens.
1865. University Greys become the bravest volunteers in the Civil War, suffering 100% casualties and reaching the farthest point North at Gettysburg. Confederate dead are buried on the Ole Miss campus.
1874. Professors walk out en masse to protest attempts to integrate the school and are successful in rebuffing such attempts.
1876. Redemptionists overthrow the Reconstruction and military-occupation, reestablish white-franchise and restore freedom and majority-rule to Mississippi.
1890. Mississippi adopts its Constitution, which provides for more elected-officials than any other state, as well as for second-primaries, to assure that the majority, not plurality, will always rule, as a way to prevent reimposition of a second Reconstruction..
1894. Mississippi adopts the Confederate flag, a tribute to its defeat of the Reconstruction.
1903. Revival of Confederate spirit places Confederate monuments and insignia throughout the South, including at Ole Miss. Ole Miss becomes the nickname of the University derived from the term used by slaves for the master's wife.
1911. The school becomes a repository for the Old South and a hub of Southern populism, scholarship and patriotism.
1923. Kappa Alpha Fraternity inculcates Southern honor and pride in its platform, in tribute to Robert E. Lee, the Southern Colonel image and segregation.
1931. Mississippi Governors appoint a staff of Colonels, comprised of leading political figures and loyalists, to reflect Old South tradition and serve as grass-roots links to the people.
1937. The image of the Southern Colonel, patterned after Robert E. Lee, becomes the symbol of the school. The Confederate flag becomes a mainstay image of the school, as well.
1948. Mississippi and the "Solid South" vote for Strom Thurmond and Fielding Wright as a protest against integrationist legislation proposed by Harry S. Truman.
1954. Senator James O. Eastland leads efforts to keep Misssisippi segregated and to defeat Communism. He declares that integration is a Communist plot. The "Solid South" sides with Mississippi.
1960. The segregated Ole Miss football team captures the national championship. The Confederate flag becomes a universal symbol of opposition to integration.
1962. John F. Kennedy invades Mississippi to force a Negro into the University. Students riot and the entire state rebels. Ross Barnett delivers his famous I Love Mississippi speech at the Ole Miss football game at the Mississippi Memorial Stadium in Jackson. Many recollect it as Mississippi's Glory Days. Citizens surround the Governor's Mansion to protect the chief-executive from being arrested.
1963. George Wallace's stand in the schoolhouse door, in opposition to integration, electrifies the nation.
1964. Mississippi delivers the largest vote in the country to Barry Goldwater, who voted against the Civil Rights Bill. Strom Thurmond bolts to the Republican Party to create an alternative to the darkening Democratic Party. Trent Lott calls the GOP the reincarnation of the principles of Jefferson Davis.
1968. John Bell Williams cuts off funds for public schools to prevent integration. George Wallace, elected on a platform of Segregation Forever, gains in the North as a segregationist Presidential candidate.
1969. A. F. Summer journeys to Los Angeles offering to help California and other places learn from Mississippi in combating integration. He bars personnel of the National Educational Association from entering school property to promote integration.
1971. Federal judges force Negroes into white schools and implement forced bussing. Whites evacuate to segregated private schools.
1976. Mississippians lead Democrats for Reagan. Reagan adopts his "Southern Strategy" to put the South back in the driver's seat and annouonces his support for "states rights and constitutional government," the segregationist battle-cry.
1990. Ku Klux Klansmen protest integration near the campus. The student yearbook selects Klansmen as its theme for the year.
1991. Kirk Fordice, vowing opposition to the Civil Rights Bill, is elected Governor over his avowed integrationist opponent.
1992. The Nationalist Movement wins in the United States Supreme Court against officials who had tried to ban Confederate-flag-wavers from assembling on public property.
1994. Integrationist Democrats are booted out of Congress. Segregationist Trent, a former Ole Miss cheerleader, is elevated to Senate leadership. The Republican Revolution seems poised to reverse Africanization.
1995. Ole Miss officials set up a symposium designed to support integration. Protests ensue, causing cancellation of a future such series.
1997. Richard Barrett forces Robert Khayat to establish a campus "free-speech" zone for segregationist, Confederate and Old South rhetoric. Fraternities refuse to integrate.
1998. William Winter becomes a member of Bill Clinton's Race Board, which holds a meeting at Ole Miss. The Board attempts to promote integration, but shuts down after encountering massive public opposition, nationwide.
2000. George W. Bush carries the South, largely on the strength of his appearance at segregationist Bob Jones University and refusal to attend an NAACP convention.
2001. The NAACP demands that the Confederate flag and all Confederate symbols be banished. Robert Khayat and William Winter side with the Negroes in banning the flag, but Mississippi readopts the flag by a 2-to-1 vote. Gene Taylor sides with the flag.
2003. Robert Khayat tries to ban Colonel Reb, but is soundly defeated. Amy Tuck declares for the Confederate flag. William Winter fails to halt Support Colonel Reb rally. Richard Barrett forces Khayat to release his mascot "contest" entries.
2006. Coach Ed Orgeron tries to install a Negro, Michael Spurlock, as quarterback, but fails and is compelled by protesters to install a white, Ethan Flatt.
2007. Coach Ed Orgeron tries, a second time, to install a Negro, Brent Schaefer, as quarterback, but fails and is compelled by protesters to install a white, Seth Adams.
2008. Richard Barrett delivers campus-speech calling for "re-segregation, reclamation and resurrection," cheered by enthusiastic students.
2009. Students defy ultimatum to cease chanting The South Shall Rise Again joined by an animated and unreconstructed Colonel Reb.
2010. Students boycott a poll, stacked by Dan Jones, showing their defiance of Jones and refusal to abandon Colonel Reb.
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