Ole Miss Community Discusses Race Protest After ElectionBy Sandra Knispel | Published 28 Nov 2012 12:41am |
The Ole Miss community is still debating the ugly race protests on campus in the wake of President Obama’s re-election three weeks ago. MPB’s Sandra Knispel reports on a town-hall style meeting at the University’s Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics last night.
Student representatives, local journalists, and a faculty member discussed last night the effect of the ugly disturbance and the state of race relations at the University of Mississippi. Emily Roland, managing editor of the student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, urged her fellow students to stop pretending all is well.
“Start being honest with each other. Stop pretending to the media. When we ask you questions – like ‘How do you think integration is at Ole Miss?’ Don’t tell us it’s great. Tell us the truth. Acknowledge what you really think,” Rowland said.
The panel also discussed news coverage of the incident. Memphis Action News 5 anchor Kym Clark admitted to making a crucial mistake in her initial coverage of the ebent, which included racial slurs and burning of Obama-Biden signs -- but ultimately caused no physical injuries or property damage.
“I have a great deal of blame in this because I am one of the senior people at the station now, especially in the morning I am senior. And I should have asked more questions than I did," Clark said. "I thought I asked enough questions but I didn’t, because our producers are younger – they are new to the journalism field – and I should have asked them more direct questions before we used the word 'riot.'”
But despite the absence of physical injuries that night – several students on the panel and in the audience spoke of their anguish and hurt. Jeremy Holliday, who is an African American student enrolled in exercise science and pre-nursing, said driving up Rebel Drive onto campus that night he heard the n-word being used towards black students and the president, while groups of white students were blasting Dixie from their cars and trucks -- shouting “the South will rise again” and “white power.”
“It was very unsettling. I was very hurt to see members of my Ole Miss family act in this manner and to act with such unsensitivity [sic] towards their fellow Rebels," Jeremy said.
Holliday admits that at first he was so hurt he contemplated changing universities, but then decided to stay to make sure he’d be part of the solution and necessary change. Ole Miss Public Relations Director, Danny Blanton, meanwhile assured the audience that the university was not trying to sweep anything under the rug.
“What happened that night went beyond insensitivity. It was awful. And it is embarrassing to the university as a whole that any segment of your student body would behave in that manner and feel like they can behave that way and not have to feel the same shame that the rest of us feel.”
Right now a committee, comprised of students, administration, and faculty members is working on a detailed report on what happened that night and recommendations to the University on how to move forward.
Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Oxford.
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