Why the Symbolic Lynching at Ole Miss Matters

by Tonya Thames Taylor, Huffington Post, 3/4/14

The most recent transgression at the University of Mississippi, affectionately called “Ole Miss,” proves, as President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy learned during the early 1960’s, that Mississippi serves as a litmus test, which measures the progress of relationships between American whites and nonwhites.

Mississippi may not be burning, but it certainly continues to smolder with the same embers of hate that blister their way into the 21st century. The latest brand was left by three white provocateurs, all under 21, who recently perpetrated a calculated, spectacle lynching of a memorial honoring Ole Miss’s desegregation, which occurred in 1962 amid rioting that left two dead.

Likewise, these same odious cinders continue to smolder in America. Our national crime is promoting the legacy of second-class citizenship of nonwhites, as their rights and liberties are abridged when they are confronted by whites who believe they are entitled to police their behaviors.

The account of three miscreants at Ole Miss is yet another example of a common practice of ordinary white citizens policing nonwhites in America.

I should know: I am an American. I earned my graduate degrees from Ole Miss. I wrote my dissertation about lynching. I daily walked along picturesque campus drives named “Confederate” and “Rebel.” I frequently studied in areas near the Confederate statue, cemetery, and stain-glass window. The invocation of the spirit of the Confederacy conveyed that while I was at Ole Miss, I was not meant to be of Ole Miss. …

continue reading at Huffington Post. tonya thames taylor is an associate professor of history at West Chester University in West Chester, PA and is writing a book on lynching.

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Filed under Race, Ethnicity, Immigration

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