Dear Commons Community,
On Saturday, members of the Ole Miss men’s basketball team took a knee (see video) during the national anthem as a protest against a pro-Confederate rally that marched through Oxford. Eight players took a knee before Ole Miss faced off against Georgia. As reported by various media:
“Following the contest, coach Kermit Davis and a few Ole Miss players confirmed members of the team knelt to protest that rally.
Davis told reporters he was not aware his players would kneel before the game. Guard Breein Tyree said he did not anticipate the kneeling would become a multi-game thing.
Two pro-Confederate groups — Confederate 901 and Hiwaymen — held a protest to express their disappointment that Ole Miss will no longer use Colonel Reb as its mascot, according to Nick Suss of the Clarion Ledger.
The rally started in downtown Oxford — the city where Ole Miss is located — and ended on Ole Miss’ campus at a monument to unnamed Confederate soldiers.
Roughly 75 protestors gathered prior to the march, according to Suss. They began the march by chanting “God bless Dixie.” The rally was met by counter-protestors who chanted “who lost the war? You lost the war.”
Ole Miss knew about the protest, but still decided to go through with Saturday’s game. The university advised students to stay away from the rally, according to Suss.
The decision to kneel during the national anthem — no matter what the motive — was not done lightly. When he was hired in 2018, Davis said his players would respect the flag, according to Sports Illustrated.
“We’re going to be a respectful team that respects the flag and the national anthem. All those things from culture is what we’re about. It’s who we’re going to be,” Davis said.
Freedom of speech is alive and well at Ole Miss!