Ole Miss not just whistling 'Dixie,' bans song from games

The University of Mississippi marching band will no longer play the song “Dixie,” a long-standing tradition at football games that has received extensive criticism.

According to Mississippi Today, the Ole Miss Athletics Department announced the decision in a statement Friday, calling it an effort to be “more inclusive for all fans.”

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"Because the Pride of the South is such a large part of our overall experience and tradition, the Athletics Department asked them to create a new and modern pregame show that does not include Dixie and is more inclusive for all fans,” the statement reads.

“We want everyone who steps foot on campus to feel welcome and that they’re part of the Ole Miss family,” Athletics Director Ross Bjork told The Clarion Ledger. “There wasn’t one defining moment. It was a collaborative process where we felt we needed to move forward and do the right things. This is another step in that direction to make sure we’re welcoming to people.”

Ole Miss has taken similar steps to become more politically correct in the past, according to AL.com, which notes that the school banned sticks in 1997 to stop fans from bringing the Confederate flag to the athletic events, and eliminated its “Colonel Reb” mascot in 2003.

In addition, former Chancellor Dan Jones had asked the band to stop playing “From Dixie with Love” in 2009 because some fans had taken to shouting “the South will rise again” in response. More recently, Ole Miss took down the state flag last year after students complained about its historical context.

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Allen Coon, a student senator who co-authored the flag removal resolution, praised Ole Miss for dumping the song “Dixie.”

“It's an important step forward for our university as we attempt to reconcile and understand our relationship with our Old South past,” Coon told The Commercial Appeal. "Ending the use of 'Dixie' promotes inclusivity and makes room for traditions that all UM students can connect with."

“I think it’s a step in the right direction of the culture shift that I think is very necessary at the University of Mississippi, for where the university is trying to go to create an inclusive culture and a culture that welcomes students from all backgrounds and walks of life,” added Dominique Scott, the treasurer for the NAACP chapter at Ole Miss, in a statement to the Clarion-Ledger.

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“It’s just an ongoing conversation with our leadership about how we can move forward,” Bjork remarked. “As part of our new stadium, there can be new traditions.”