We all know about the history of the Confederacy and the feelings created by the presence of the Confederate flag. Their relationship is probably best exemplified by Ole Miss.
This past week, word circulated that two pro-Confederate groups, Confederate 901 and the Hiwaymen, would be marching and rallying at the University of Mississippi. In response, counterprotests were held on campus on Thursday and Friday before the groups marched on Saturday, which was also the day that the men’s basketball team would be playing at home against Georgia.
Some of the players on the team weren’t having it, so eight of them went the route of Colin Kaepernick and knelt during the anthem in protest of the hate that was parading through their campus.
PROUD of these men. #HottyToddy #OleMiss #kneel https://t.co/9qI6oaBNJn
The eight players protesting against the Confederate rally were identified as KJ Buffen, D.C. Davis, Brian Halums, Luis Rodriguez, Devontae Shuler, Bruce Stevens, Breein Tyree and and Franco Miller Jr.
After the team’s 72-71 victory over the Bulldogs, Tyree spoke about the player’s actions both to the media and on Twitter.
“The majority of it was we saw one of our teammates doing it and we just didn’t want him to be alone,” said Tyree. “We’re just tired of these hate groups coming to our school and portraying our campus like it’s our actual university having these hate groups in our school.”
To the people that fight for this country, my teammates and I meant no disrespect to everything that you do for us, but we had to take a stand to the negative things that went on today on our campus. #WeNeedChange
In the postgame press conference, head coach Hermit Davis said he wasn’t aware of what his players had planned, but he supported their stance against the hate that was marching through Ole Miss.
“This was all about the hate groups that came to our community to try to spread racism and bigotry,” said Davis. “It’s created a lot of tension for our campus. Our players made an emotional decision to show these people they’re not welcome on our campus, and we respect our players’ freedom and ability to choose that.”
Full Presser of Head Coach @RebelCoachDavis and Guard Breein Tyree on the kneeling during the National Anthem situation and what why the @OleMissMBB players did it. https://t.co/XD9STmgl8z
University athletic director, Ross Bjork, also recognized and supported the actions of the eight players. He issued a statement after speaking with the team as well.
Statements from today ⬇️
“Our job is to teach and educate every single day. You know what, they’re human. They’re students. They see what’s happening on our campus and these people that come here and spill hate and bigotry and racism, we don’t want them on our campus. Our players stood up for that,” said Bjork. “It had nothing to do with the anthem. It had nothing to do with anything beyond, ‘You know what, we don’t want those people here. They’re protesting during our game, and that’s not right because that’s not the Ole Miss that I know.’
“We talked to them about that in the locker room and that’s their expression. We support them. We don’t want those people here either. The University doesn’t want them. Our town doesn’t want them. They’re out of state. They’re not from here. And so, you know what, good for the players to stand up and make a statement.”
The rally and counterprotest ended during the second half of the game, but the wound, once attempted to be sealed with the University’s removal of the Confederate flag and mascot Colonel Jack, was reopened.
Fortunately, the response was swift from all levels of Ole Miss.