They Took a Knee at Ole Miss For All of Us

Yesterday a small rally of pro-Confederate white supremacist supporters rallied around the Confederate statue on the campus of the University of Mississippi. H.K. Edgerton even made an appearance. His presence could have easily overshadowed the media’s coverage of this event, but for what took place just a few steps away inside the sports arena, where the Ole Miss Rebels basketball team took on Georgia.

During the singing of the National Anthem a number of African American players took a knee to protest what was taking place on their campus. It was a powerful statement that at once collapsed the past and present. The sight of black men protesting is a reminder of the attempts to keep their campus all white in the 1950s and the Confederate symbolism that had for so long been a part of its culture.

But their protest yesterday was more than just a response to Edgerton and his merry band of Lost Cause followers. Their protest comes amidst continued controversy surrounding the state flag, which still contains the symbol of the Confederate flag. It also must be seen in response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August 2017 and more recent revelations of college activities that up until very recently embraced Confederate symbolism and racist imagery such as blackface and that have extended to at least two governors.

These kids spoke for all of us on that court yesterday and I thank them for their bravery.

By the way, Ole Miss defeated Georgia by one point. Way to go.

About the author: Thank you for taking the time to read this post. What next? Scroll down and join the discussion in the comments section. Looking for more Civil War content? You can follow me on Twitter. Check out my forthcoming book, Searching For Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth, which is the first book-length analysis of the black Confederate myth ever published. Pre-order your copy today.

11 comments… add one
  • Ken Noe Feb 24, 2019 @ 5:05

    I read that at one point Edgerton thanked God for the African slave trade, which drew amens from his group. In that context, the players sure occupy the high ground.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2019 @ 5:12

      Hi Ken. I heard the same thing. It’s the old ‘We civilized and introduced Africans to Christianity nonsense.

    • Andy Hall Feb 24, 2019 @ 8:13

      He did say that. He also said that George Soros had put out a hit on him, and that he was going to seek a presidential pardon for “that young baby boy” who drove his car into the crowd at Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others. That was just in the first two minutes, which was about all I could stand to watch.

      The poor man has lost whatever mind he had left.

      • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2019 @ 8:37

        Thanks for the link, Andy. At some point I am going to write an op-ed about Edgerton that connects him to some of the themes in my book. It certainly never takes Edgerton long to go off the deep end.

      • Msb Feb 24, 2019 @ 8:42

        Thanks for suffering so I don’t have to!

        • Andy Hall Feb 24, 2019 @ 19:14

          I was going to make up a list of all the ridiculous nonsense in the full, 10-minute video, but after listing about four bullet points in the first three minutes, I gave up. It gets tiresome, fast.

          But I did come across another article about the event with some additional detail:

          A pro-Confederate rally Saturday at the University of Mississippi, or “Ole Miss,” in the town of Oxford, claimed to be a defense of Southern heritage instead of racism. It also began with a prayer of thanks to Southern plantation owners for teaching “heathen” Africans about Christianity.

          The protest, organized by two groups, The Highwaymen and Confederate 901, billed itself as an effort to “draw the line in the sand” over attempts at Ole Miss to distance itself from its Confederate past. It also aimed to push back against calls from some campus activists to remove a Confederate memorial from the campus grounds.

          “If you are fed up with this Political Correctness BS and sick and tired of this mess happening then please join,” the event’s Facebook page said….

          During a prayer to begin the rally, black pro-Confederate protester H.K. Edgerton, dressed in Confederate grays, thanked “all the Christian white folks in the Southland of America, on plantations all across the South, who took that heathen in Africa who didn’t know anything about Jesus Christ.”

          “Thank you, and thank your ancestors,” Edgerton continued to “amens” his fellow protesters.

          Even as [Billy] Sessions denied any affiliation with white supremacist groups in his video, he also called on people who oppose Confederate monuments to move to China or Mexico and said counter-protesters should understand pro-Confederate activists because they are also proud of their ancestors from “fucking Cuba,” Mexico, or England.

          “Confederate 901” has some strange stuff on their Facebook page, too. Not even gonna try to explain that.

  • Diane Jacqueline Hyra Feb 24, 2019 @ 6:29

    Thank you, Kevin, for keeping me informed about such actions. Anyone who thinks African-Americans of today should “get over slavery” are just exhibiting willful ignorance at best and racism at worst.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2019 @ 6:33

      You are very welcome.

  • Msb Feb 24, 2019 @ 8:45

    How brave of these young men. You might also have seen news about the “heirs of the Confederacy” rally at the well named “Silent Sam hole” on Saturday ( https://triad-city-beat.com/tar-heels-neo-confederates-go-home-racists). Apparently they were outnumbered by counterprotesters and things passed off relatively peaceably.

  • James Simcoe Feb 24, 2019 @ 11:08

    There’s a big push statewide to replace the Stars and Bars with the Stennis flag, a neutral star and bars.

    • Andy Hall Feb 25, 2019 @ 7:31

      Has support for adoption of a state flag based on the old Magnolia Flag faded completely? That has the benefit of having a long and deep history in the state, as will as being distinctly Mississippian. The Stennis Flag in non-controversial, I suppose, but it’s utterly anodyne and non-distinctive.

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