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Letter to the Editor

Dear Ole Miss students who protested by shouting racial slurs and burning an Obama/Biden sign on election night,

I am a graduate of Ole Miss. I have always felt deep sorrow and shame for the terrible events that took place at Ole Miss and throughout Mississippi during the Civil Rights movement. However, observing the recent 50th anniversary of James Meredith’s enrollment there, I was proud to see where my school is today in relation to those events of the past. It was clear that true progress had been made – the kind that can’t be faked for the sake of positive media coverage, but rather, is a result of deep roots that have grown and strengthened over time.
This morning, when I learned of these “protests” and saw the picture of white students burning an Obama/Biden campaign sign, I could not believe my eyes. With that image now in my mind, I feel shame. The oft-quoted line from Frank Everett, Jr. best explains why I can’t just “move on” from this without speaking. “The University gives a diploma and regretfully terminates tenure, but one never graduates from Ole Miss.” It sounds trite in the context of these events, but it does explain why I believe I have a responsibility to say something. Your selfish, childish, and hateful actions are misrepresenting me and the rest of the Ole Miss community, who have worked to move forward and give our school and our state a better history.
A quote better suited for today is from Oxford’s own William Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” These words are especially haunting in light of your actions last night.
Here is my request to you: Exercise the freedoms afforded you by the U.S. Constitution. But recognize that those freedoms are also privileges; and with privilege comes responsibility. Think of ways to use your voice responsibly and constructively. Otherwise, you may as well spit on the collective graves of the founding fathers, U.S. soldiers, civil rights workers, and public servants who spent their finite time on this earth working to ensure that some day, kids like you could grow up and choose to dishonor the very sacrifices that made your beloved freedoms possible. If this is how you choose to interpret and exercise your constitutional rights, then so be it. But please, next time do it on your own property and leave Ole Miss out of it.

Elizabeth Boyd
Class of 1993