By Rickey Hampton, Editor and Founder of TheAfricanAmericanAthlete.com
The news regarding the Pro-Confederate protestors marching in Oxford, Miss., last weekend that prompted eight members of the Ole Miss basketball team to kneel during the playing of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ did not get the attention it deserved.
The courage and character it took for those eight young black men to kneel during the anthem in protest of the Pro-Confederate march should not be minimized.
Although the University of Mississippi, and coach Kermit Davis offered its support to the players, there is no doubt many Mississippians were outraged by their actions.
I mean, we are talking about Mississippi where the Confederate battle emblem still resides on the state flag. We are talking about the cradle of the confederacy, with a history of bitter racism, discrimination, slavery, and vitriol aimed toward black people.
And in the age of Trump, you can be assured that more people feel its OK to express their racism publicly being that the current president touts his racism almost daily.
Consider the very fact those young black men were even enrolled at Ole Miss was because of the courage of James Meredith, who in 1962 became the first black man to enroll in the university.
And how did many Mississippians take the news of Meredith’s enrollment?
By taking to the streets.
All hell quite literally broke loose on the Ole Miss campus as a riot ensued. Two people died and 164 people were injured in the riot. Surely, Meredith would have been killed if the rioters could have gotten passed the National Guard that was keeping him sequestered.
Even after the rioting ending and Meredith began taking classes, he had to be escorted by armed National Guardsman. Meredith persevered and in 1964 he became the first black to graduate from Ole Miss, earning a degree if political science.
Of course, even as an Ole Miss grad Meredith was nothing more than another nigger in the eyes of many Mississippians. In fact, Meredith was shot in 1966 when he attempted to walk from Memphis to Jackson, Miss., to demonstrated that a black man could go anywhere in Mississippi. Meredith survived the blast.
Click the link to learn more about Meredith and Ole Miss.