From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I don't know if you remember me or not, but I met you last summer in Crystal Springs, Ms at the Tomato Fest. It has
been a while since we have talked and I would just like to tell you that my crusade to bring Colonel Reb back is going
well. As you know here at Ole MIss we are having the presidential debate here this weekend and we have had an army of media here slandering Mississippi. the ollowing article i am about to post you was in the New York Times today. The certian white fraternity is the one that I am a brother of and I will lt you read it.
Debate Host, Too, Has a Message of Change
By SHAILA DEWAN
Published: September 23, 2008
OXFORD, Miss. - As the University of Mississippi prepares to hold the first debate of the presidential campaign on campus this Friday, it is also preparing a message for the millions who will be watching: Ole Miss has changed.
New Era for Ole Miss The university's chancellor, Robert C. Khayat, a former Ole Miss football star, sees the debate as an unprecedented opportunity to supplant the image of the university formed in 1962, when white students and residents rioted, leaving two dead, in protest of the enrollment of the university's first black student, James Meredith.
"For many people, 1962 is locked in their memory, as far as Ole Miss is concerned," Mr. Khayat said. "Now, 46 years later, we're hosting the presidential debate and one of the candidates is an African-American. That, I think, speaks volumes about where we were and where we are."
By many measures, Ole Miss has indeed emerged from the racial dark ages. Since Mr. Khayat was appointed chancellor 13 years ago, black enrollment, long suppressed by fear, has increased to 14 percent, from 5.8 percent in 1995 (though Mississippi is nearly 40 percent black). The Confederate battle flag is no longer ubiquitous at football games. In 2006, the many Civil War memorials on campus were joined by a monument to Mr. Meredith and integration. A Federal Express executive, Rose Flenorl, will become the first black president of the alumni association in November. Social integration, once rarely addressed, has become a hot topic among student leaders.
Those same students are quick to point out that the university still has far to go. At football games, many black students remain seated when the band plays Dixie and fans chant "The South will rise again." A white fraternity still holds an annual Old South party where escorts in Rebel uniforms and women in hoop skirts mingle at a plantation.
Black students are viewed as having virtually no chance of being elected to honorary positions like homecoming queen or
Miss Ole Miss. What many white students think of as hallowed tradition, blacks find an unwelcoming affront. "When we get here," said Nickolaus Luckett, a black honor student who is on the student debate steering committee, "we see it instantly."
Nevertheless, there is a widespread sense that more and more students are intent on changing the campus and the state. Susan M. Glisson, director of the university's William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, which helps communities blighted by civil rights-era crimes come to terms with the past, said there had been a sea change among applicants for the internships she offers.
"They were the hippie kids, the nonmainstream kids," she said. "Suddenly, in the last two or three years, it's white frat boys."
Sensing the shift, Mr. Luckett, one of the Institute's interns, has opted to join the virtually all-white fraternity system that dominates the campus's political and social life, rather than pledge with a black fraternity.
"I don't want to run from a fraternity that has rebel flags in the windows, because if I'm not there to say something about it, who is?" he said. Mr. Luckett is not worried that he will be overlooked because of his race - just the opposite. "I worry that people are going to pick me just because I'm black," he said. "That's the new thing."
On the administration's part, the approach to redemption has been pragmatic. Mr. Khayat said that when he became chancellor, marketing studies showed that the university's reputation as a racist bastion was driving down enrollment. So he ousted Confederate flags from the football stadium by banning the sticks to which the flags were affixed, sparking a controversy that earned him death threats.
But he did not forbid the playing of "Dixie," saying that students who did not like the song would simply have to tolerate it. "It's a balance challenge, as far as I'm concerned," said Mr. Khayat, who spent months lobbying the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates to get the university named as a host.
The chancellor, who describes the events of 1962 as "unpleasant" and "inappropriate," also overruled the jury that chose a design for the civil rights memorial that was to be engraved with the statements "Learn in fear no more" and "Unite in fear no more." The chancellor said he thought "fear" was too negative a word and replaced the phrases with "courage," "perseverance," "opportunity" and "knowledge." The memorial praises Mr. Meredith as a civil rights pioneer, but makes no mention of the violence that accompanied his efforts.
"It's a battle of two histories," said Artair Rogers, a black junior from Guntown, Miss., and one of many students who has tried to reduce social segregation on campus. "It's those conflicting histories that make our university so complex. The administration can only do so much."
New Era for Ole Miss Students are trying to take on the rest. Last fall, a black freshman was thrown out of a white fraternity party and complained that he had been subjected to racial epithets. In response, students organized a retreat paid for by the administration and attended by some 80 campus leaders.
At the retreat, black participants explained why the symbols of the Old South caused them to feel unwelcome. White students, many with multigenerational legacies at Ole Miss, shared memories of hearing "Dixie" while sitting in a grandparent's lap at tailgate parties in the Grove on campus.
"It's not necessarily about me being right and you being wrong," said Melissa Cole, a black junior. "It's, 'Can you understand that this hurts me?' "
The dialogue was an important start because even today, many students arrive at Ole Miss from single-race communities and schools and have never interacted with people of other races, said Bennett Mize, a white fraternity member and religion major who is a fifth-year senior. "It was like two sides in a war waving a white flag," he said. "It was the first time we've ever really talked."
Mr. Mize and Mr. Rogers were quick to point out that social integration did not always have to be serious. After the retreat, a black and a white fraternity held a party together, and students recently finished the second annual OMazing Games, a contest that strives to group participants into four-member teams that are as diverse as possible. The winners were given tickets to the presidential debate.
One person who has experienced the university's changes firsthand is Donald R. Cole, who entered as one of the few black freshmen in 1968. White male students blocked his path, and women waved Confederate flags at him. When he and many of the other black students on campus participated in a peaceful protest, Mr. Cole was arrested and then expelled.
Even today, the story sets off silent streams of tears, as he remembers having to tell his family and church, which had raised money to buy him school clothes, that he was no longer a student.
Mr. Cole returned to the university in the late 1970s to finish his doctorate, then again in 1992 as a mathematics professor. He is now the assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs. For years, he refused to talk about his early experience with the university. He did not even tell his children what had happened.
But as professors from the African-American studies department and students began to learn what had happened to him, Dr. Cole's resistance softened.
"I can remember when this began to turn around, and it just amazed me that the story wasn't a shameful one," he said. "That it could be recorded and someone would appreciate it. I just couldn't get over that. It's as if I went from villain to hero. I didn't feel like a villain anymore."
HK I really would love to hear from you or even if you are in this part of the country I would love for you to come by and share storys. This is an everyday controversy down here. Everything that was southern is now just considered something to do with race.