First, my wife and I have opposite opinions on the statue debate, but we discuss and respect each other’s opinions.
My great-great-great grandfather fought for the South but did not own slaves. When most Southern soldiers were asked by Union troops why they were fighting, their response was “because you are here.” Union troops invaded the South. Yes, Fort Sumter was fired upon when, after South Carolina asked Lincoln to remove federal troops, Lincoln sent resupply ships. These statues honor those men who fought to protect their homes and families. The Daily Mississippian and others call those who wish to protect these statues “neo-Confederates,” “white supremacists,” “bigots,” “racist,” etc. The majority are people who don’t want to dishonor their families.
I have had the opportunity to hear an individual who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speak and be specifically asked about Confederate symbols. This person’s response was, “There has to be compromise.” Ole Miss has claimed that it wanted to compromise, doing away with one symbol before removing something else a year or two later. Where is the compromise? We heard that “From Dixie with Love” was not going anywhere. We heard that “Dixie” was not going anywhere.
We heard that the statue wasn’t going anywhere. However, it will probably lead to a court battle and more negative publicity for Mississippi and Ole Miss. We’ve heard that the term “Ole Miss” and “Rebels” were staying, but why should we believe that claim? Many of us no longer feel welcomed by our own school because of the name-calling and lack of compromise. I hope this provides some insight into the feelings that many alumni, such as myself, have. I hope this can lead to an honest and fair dialogue without accusations and name-calling.
William Pearce III is a class of 2009 graduate.