Flag-waving Southern secessionists square off against anti-Rebel flag University of Mississippi students
By Joe Atkins, Labor South
Within minutes of a rally Friday by University of Mississippi students calling on the university to take down the state flag with its Confederate emblem, a group of Southern secessionists marched onto the scene waving giant Confederate battle flags and a sign calling on the South to "SECEDE".
A racially mixed crowd of 100 or so students and faculty had gathered by the pole carrying the state flag on the campus "Circle" to protest that last-remaining state flag that still includes a Confederate battle flag as part of the design. "Take it down! Take it down!" they chanted. The Circle is immediately in front of the university's historic Lyceum, site of the most intense shooting and rioting when James Meredith was enrolled as the university's first black student in 1962.
As the rally began to come to a close, a small group of Confederate flag-waving whites — children as well as adults — marched onto the scene. Campus police came quickly to the scene as students from the rally began to shout at the group.
"Are you a racist?" one asked.
"Absolutely," said one of the flag-bearers, whose sign also indicated that he was a member of the Killen, Alabama-based League of the South, a Southern secessionist organization.
Other members of the group wore T-shirts with the sign "International Keystone Knights".
"You are leftist commies," a group member shouted at the students.
"Can you spell communism?" a student fired back.
"We are the blood of conquerers," another group member responded.
On the League of the South Web site Friday, group member Jeremy Walls filed a report of the incident and said this:
"I knew immediately there would be some problems with the crowd. Plenty of self-loathing whites were present along with the usual smattering of minorities. I couldn't help but wonder how many of these kids were from out of State and how many were residents. ... We are indeed being watched by the Marxist forces in the area. ... One thing is clear: Marxism is alive in Mississippi. We have much work to do here if we hope to hold the line in our fight for our ancestral homeland."
The choice of the University of Mississippi campus for Friday's confrontation is no accident. No university in the South was burdened by more Confederate symbolism after the Dixiecrat revolt of 1948 than "Ole Miss." In fact, the vice presidential candidate on the Dixiecrat ticket that year was Mississippi Gov. Fielding Wright. The university has struggled in recent decades to divest itself of that symbolism, but never without intense protest.
Joe Atkins is a professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi and author of "Covering for the Bosses: Labor and the Southern Press." A veteran journalist, Atkins previously worked as the congressional correspondent with Gannett New Service's Washington bureau and with newspapers in North Carolina and Mississippi.