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Ole Miss Chancellor and NAACP to Discuss the Plaque Tonight

The Confederate Monument will have the new plaque installed by end of March.
The Confederate Monument will have the new plaque installed by end of March.

University of Mississippi chapter of NAACP will privately meet with UM Chancellor Jeff Vitter and the contextualization committee tonight to discuss the language on the plaque that will soon appear on the ground in front of the Confederate Monument in the historic Lyceum Circle.

UM interim director of public relations, Jon Scott said in an email this morning: “The meeting today is scheduled for this evening, I think around 6:30 p.m. It will be a private meeting between some members of the administration and some members of the UM NAACP Chapter.”

The language proposed for the plaque is this, as revealed in Chancellor Vitter’s letter that he sent out on March 11:

As Confederate veterans were passing from the scene in increasing numbers, memorial associations built monuments in their memory all across the South. This statue was dedicated by citizens of Oxford and Lafayette County in 1906. On the evening of September 30, 1962, the statue was a rallying point where a rebellious mob gathered to prevent the admission of the University’s first African American student. It was also at this statue that a local minister implored the mob to disperse and allow James Meredith to exercise his rights as an American citizen. On the morning after that long night, Meredith was admitted to the University and graduated in August 1963.

The contextualization committee that drafted this language is comprised of the assistant to the Chancellor for multicultural affairs Donald Cole, African American studies director Charles Ross, retired Professor Emeritus of history David Sansing and retired chief of staff to the Chancellor Andy Mullins.

When asked about his thoughts on UM NAACP’s criticism of the original language on the plaque, Professor Emeritus of history, David Sansing, who is retired, said, “I really can’t say anything about what (UM NAACP) believes because I haven’t talked to them, and they will explain what their concerns are about the marker (at the meeting).”

The university chapter of NAACP released a statement last Monday, March 14, criticizing the original language on the Confederate Monument plaque, asking for the state’s history of slavery to be included in the plaque. In its statement, UM NAACP said, “Our administration should clarify why that chapter (The United Daughters of the Confederacy) decided to erect the monument on this campus, and elsewhere, contextualize spaces that provide reasons for why a ‘rebellious mob gathered to prevent the admission of the University’s first African American student.'”

UM NAACP’s communications chair, Makayla McNeal, said, “We just don’t feel like the language on the plaque properly contexualized the language on the statue. We are going in to discuss the language.”

UM NAACP’s president, Buka Okoye, said that the university organization does not have any proposals for new language to replace the current language on the plaque.

“We have two people on the plaque committee that are retired. We’re looking to see if each member did their share of the contextualizing,” Okoye said, “Why do we have retirees on this committee? It seems like it was an agenda. We’re looking to develop the way to go about contextualization our campus. If this is the method they go about doing that, we have a problem.”

Okoye believes that there should have been more input on the plaque’s language as well as contextualization of the campus according to the university’s 2014 Action Plan.

“We want to contextualize not just as the University of Mississippi chapter but as students. There are several people across campus that were not contacted that could be,” he said, “Paid faculty on our campus were not in this process. We want to know how they go about teaching and contextualizating and was this (process) legitimate”

Below is the UM NAACP’S statement that it released on its social media last Monday, criticizing the proposed language.

Courtesy Facebook / UMNAACP
Courtesy Facebook / UMNAACP

HottyToddy.com will update this story on the outcome of tonight’s meeting.


Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com. Emily Newton is the staff writer and editor of Experience Oxford magazine. She can be reached at emily.newton@hottytoddy.com.

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