NOT HERE. NOT NOW. NOT ON OUR CAMPUS. With protesters calling for Confederate monuments to remain, Ole Miss students urge the administration to consider relocation, putting the university back in the national spotlight.

The Confederate monument in the Circle, which was erected in 1906, has been the focal point of the university’s ongoing debates about Confederate symbolism on campus for years. In 1962, James Meredith’s enrollment in and integration of the school drew racist rioters to the statue’s base. In 2016, then-Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter proposed a series of contextualization plaques as a solution to the controversy. This solution would not satisfy the UM community — Students Against Social Injustice marched in the fall to protest the statue. This demonstration led to the escalation of events of the spring.

In just 10 days in February of this year, public scrutiny of the statue’s prominence intensified. Three campus demonstrations in support of removing the monument and one highly publicized protest in opposition to its removal occurred over three days. Nearly a week of tension and controversy was overshadowed in just 63 seconds as eight Ole Miss men’s basketball players knelt during the national anthem.

The Associated Student Body Senate, the Senate of the Faculty and the Graduate Student Council passed resolutions recommending the relocation of the monument from the Circle to the Confederate cemetery on campus. University officials soon made the same recommendation to the Institute of Higher Learning Board and submitted a notice of intent to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Students at the University of Mississippi prepared for pro-Confederate protesters to march on campus.

Pro-Confederate groups marched on campus after more than a week of preparation and counterprotests by many in the university community.

As neo-Confederate activists arrived on campus, counterprotesters with signs began chanting, "Black presence, black power," "We will not be quiet" and "Your heritage is hate."

A DM reporter followed one neo-Confederate activist and one counterprotester during the Feb. 23 protests. They talked about heritage, the Confederacy and finding common ground.

Sam Abel, a University of Mississippi student and counterprotester at the Feb. 23 rally, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

The Feb. 23 neo-Confederate protests ended with no violence or injuries, according to University Police Department Chief Ray Hawkins.

Oxford residents and Ole Miss students gathered on the Square and on campus not to join the protests but to watch them. While most spectators had opinions about the protesters, many were apathetic about the impact the protests may have on the community.

“I understand the ideal of ‘Don’t give them a reaction. … But to a certain extent, I think, after a point, (the neo-Confederate groups) are doing this not necessarily to get a reaction or to get a rise out of people,” counterprotest organizer Will Pipes said.

In the midst of Confederate protests on campus, eight black student-athletes knelt during the national anthem and reminded everyone what it means to be an Ole Miss Rebel.

Student leaders at the University of Mississippi are taking steps toward removing the Confederate monument from the center of campus.

Pro-Confederate rally route from the Oxford Square to the University of Mississippi Circle

Illustration: Mackenzie Linneen

Column: Basketball players kneeling reminiscent of Hawkins in 1982

Created By
Sarah Henderson

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