Bill Malec’s letter “Decision Time for Freeburg,” reminded me of a story relayed to me last year by my daughter who was entering her freshman year at Ole Miss. She said a couple years ago there was a big brouhaha about changing the college mascot, “Colonel Rebel” to the “Rebel, the Black Bear.” Apparently some thought Col. Reb had racial connotations as a Confederate soldier or Southern plantation owner.
“Col. Reb” was officially retired in 2010 and the Black Bear became the new official mascot. Ole Miss did retain the trademark of the Col. Reb image.
There’s no doubt Col. Reb’s image and even the college itself, “Ole Miss Rebels” is linked to Southern heritage. However, according to Ole Miss historian David Sansing, the original designer of the Col. Reb image — widely attributed to a guy named Bill Hix around 1937-38 — used a black man as the model.
“Blind” Jim Ivy was a campus fixture for many years affectionately known as “the dean of freshmen” for his pep talks to incoming classes. He was famous for his humorous saying, “I’ve never seen the Rebels lose a game.”
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Rather than jump on the bandwagon of political correctness on what is deemed offensive, maybe the campus leadership should’ve done their homework first.
Five years since Col. Reb’s retirement, none of the students recognize “Black Bear” as their mascot.
Freeburg should look hard at what their mascot means to them.