The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) community was shocked to discover that a pair of still-at-large racists attacked a prominent statue on campus with a rope noose and a pre-2003 edition of the Georgia state flag, which displayed the Confederate “stars and bars” on it’s face.
James Meredith became the first African-American to enroll at the university in the fall of 1962, despite the ensuing violence and turmoil. As such, the university commemorated the historical event by dedicating a statue of Meredith on the first day of October, 2006.
The vandalism was discovered early this past Sunday morning by Mark McMillan, the owner of an insulation company who had showed up to work on the university’s library building, near the James Meredith statue.
“The rope was tied around the statue’s neck like a noose and the Confederate flag was draped around the shoulders and back of the statue like a scarf,” said McMillan.
“I came up on a couple younger-looking boys by the loading dock that were yelling ‘white power’ and ‘f— n—–s’ on my way back over towards the statue,” he said. “When I rounded the corner of (the George Street House), I noticed the rope and the flag, and it definitely showed the Confederate flag.”
The pair of racist vandals are being sought out by authorities, and the The Ole Miss Alumni Association is offering $25,000 for information leading to the arrest of the men, one of whom may have been wearing camouflage pants.
Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones released a statement about Sunday’s vandalism:
“These individuals chose our university’s most visible symbol of unity and educational accessibility to express their disagreement with our values. Their ideas have no place here, and our response will be an even greater commitment to promoting the values that are engraved on the statue – Courage, Knowledge, Opportunity, and Perseverance.”
The virtual tour page for the university describes the civil rights monument as follows:
Exactly 44 years after Meredith attended his first class, the Civil Rights Monument was dedicated on October 1, 2006. In tribute to those who sought to open the doors of higher education to all citizens in the South, the words “Courage,” “Opportunity,” “Knowledge,” and “Perseverance” are inscribed at the top of the limestone portal, which sits just west of the Lyceum.
It’s extremely sad and despicable that these racists would dishonor a statue commemorating a significant event in both the state of Mississippi and the United States as a whole. Given the $25,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of these ignorant bigots, there is a great deal of passion and anger about this crime, and it will only be a matter of time before we find out exactly who these kids are, along with who or what is behind their prejudiced attitudes.
Watch a local news report below from WREG Memphis on this despicable act.
On Monday, Ole Miss students gathered to honor the statue. They shared their opinions about this incident in the news report from WMCTV 5 below.