On the morning of Friday, Sept. 10, the Martindale Student Services Center will be renamed Martindale-Cole, symbolizing unity and progression on the University of Mississippi campus.
In a conversation held Sept. 9 at the Overby Center, Larry Martindale and Donald Cole shared stories of how they came to be the namesakes of the campus building. Martindale initially requested an addition to the name when he realized that he wanted the building to represent the University of Mississippi in the new age. Diversity and inclusion are the leading factors in his decision for the change.
“I thought it would represent who we are today, and the future,” says Martindale, “I wanted the building to have a meaning to it. We had to do something to bring the building up to today’s standards.”
Cole, a Jackson, Mississippi native, first attended the University of Mississippi in 1968 just six years after its integration. In 1970, After only two years at the university, he along with seven other students were expelled after protesting at a campus concert. He says that his time away from the university was sad. He felt as though he was letting down many people and had a lot of unfinished business to take care of.
“It was a pretty sad time for me. I couldn’t get into any other school and I couldn’t continue my career. I had not really failed at anything and I failed at getting a degree,” says Cole.
He eventually finished his education at a historically black institution. Despite his rough start at the college, Cole has dedicated the last 25 years to the University of Mississippi. He has no direct answer for why he returned to the university, but says that he came to make people proud.
Cole has been an advocate for equal opportunities and representation of black students and faculty. He has dedicated his life to portraying the university as a 21st century institution. Cole says that the addition of his name is a step in the right direction in terms of minority representation on campus.
“I think it will help with visibility and having representation,” says Cole, “It probably shouldn’t be one or two people that they look at and be the totality of all of the representation, but you have to take one step at a time, and this is the first of many steps.”
Cole says that during his time at Ole Miss he never expected to be commemorated in this way. He also says that he is honored to be chosen and was happy to hear of the addition and how it came to be.
“It was a surreal experience and I don’t think that has worn off. I was very pleased to hear that happen of course,” says Cole, “and I recognize that it could have happened to a lot of other speakers besides me who were deserving. I am just pleased that somehow I was chosen.”
Martindale says that when looking for the individual that he wanted alongside him, Cole’s name kept appearing. After reading Cole’s story, he knew without a doubt that Cole was a man meant to be commemorated.
Martindale is excited to share the namesake of the building and hopes that this act will help in the growth of the university. He says that the addition of Cole’s name will hopefully be a step in the right direction by connecting the present and the future of Ole Miss.
“This is one of those defining moments,” Martindale said, “I just thought, what can we do to make the university represent who we are? The future, not past. The past is always good and bad, but we need to focus on the good and learn from that.”
The Ceremony will be held at Martindale-Cole Student Services Friday, Sept. 10 at 9 a.m.