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Nic Lott to be keynote speaker for Black History Month Kick-Off

Courtesy of Nic Lott

By the late 1990s, the University of Mississippi had already enrolled its first black student, cheered on its first black student-athlete, elected its first black Miss Ole Miss and crowned its first black Miss University. However, at the turn of the millennium the students had yet to be led by a black Associated Student Body president.
It didn’t take long for a change to be made as Taylorsville native Nic Lott was elected as the first black ASB president in February 2000. Lott said he first began to think about running for ASB president the previous December when he served as the state chair for College Republicans his junior year. When he heard the news he was surprised.
“I was very nervous about it, but when the announcement came I was really excited,” Lott said. “I knew what it meant for me just to be able to accomplish that goal. I was looking forward to getting to work right away.”
Lott said being the first black ASB president meant a lot to him. He recalled the memory of a local reporter talking to him shortly after the election.
“He said that at my age that I couldn’t possibly understand or comprehend the significance of what it meant to minority students who had come and gone, to the alumni,” Lott said. “But over the years, I have certainly grasped the importance of it.”
Lott said that he is happy to be able to represent the university in such a positive way to the state and to the nation.
“I’m glad that my election served as a symbol of how far our university has come, the great progress our university has made and how we certainly appreciate and embrace diversity across the campus,” Lott said. “It’s great to be able to let folks know it was a new Ole Miss and that we are open for diversity.”
After he graduated from Ole Miss in 2001 with a degree in political science, Lott interned at the White House. He has also worked with Sen. Trent Lott, former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts and former Gov. Haley Barbour, and he is currently serving under Governor Phil Bryant, working with the Mississippi Development Authority. Congressman Watts was the highest-ranking black elected official in Congress while Lott worked for him.
Though he has been across the U.S. working with different politicians, Lott has remained close to the university, serving on various alumni committees.
Lott said he was very honored when he was contacted to be part of the Black History Month Kick Off at Ole Miss.
“I am thrilled to be a part of it, and I look forward to returning to campus to speak about 50 years of integration,” Lott said.
Lott said his speech will focus on the trials that James Meredith faced when he enrolled in 1962 and the ensuing 50 years of integration that swept across the nation.
“It was not a cakewalk,” he said. “A lot of folks today take advantage of the opportunities they have been afforded without knowing the sacrifices and the tremendous courage that people had during those dark, evil days in our state.”
Lott said when he was in D.C., many people still remembered the image of old Mississippi.
“I encouraged them to visit,” Lott said. “They were amazed, when they would come to visit, at how much it has changed.”
Lott will be speaking at noon in the Union lobby. For more information on black history month at Ole Miss, visit zing.olemiss.edu/category/celebrating-black-history