Confederate flag remains symbol of the losing team

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, July 1, 2015

One of my favorite ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries, after “I Hate Christian Laettner” and anything else remotely mentioning Duke University, is “The Ghosts of Ole Miss.”

As an outsider of the state, I was always aware of the racial tension tied with Mississippi and other southern states like Alabama, Arkansas and my home states of North Carolina and Texas. The reason I enjoy the documentary so much is because it eloquently tells the story of the 1962 Ole Miss football team. Although the team went undefeated, its accomplishments might have been lost in the battle being fought on campus.

1962 was the year Ole Miss was fighting the integration of the university and was faced with the advancement of society.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

James Meredith, like many other black students in states like Alabama and North Carolina, was trying to gain an education but was vehement denied because of their race. Tension on Ole Miss’ campus became so overwhelming, a battle was fought between the rioting undergrads and the Mississippi National Guard.

All throughout the documentary, a symbol of hatred and bigotry is waved by Ole Miss students and cheerleaders — the Confederate flag. The flag was waved around by students at football games and hung behind powerful images, like a black man being hanged from a noose on campus.

Wright Thompson did the research for the documentary at the special collection section of Ole Miss’ library. According to his findings, all but four students remained at Ole Miss to fight in the Civil War 100 years prior to Meredith’s arrival. He said all the students who fought in Gettysburg were either killed or injured.

Oxford and Vicksburg share the fact of a war being fought on the city’s soil and for similar reasons. Confederate soldiers fought to keep the Confederacy and students at Ole Miss fought against integration. Both the Confederate soldiers and rioting undergrads lost.

The recent horrific incident in South Carolina, 729 miles away, affected the city of Vicksburg.

Recently, the Vicksburg National Military Park stopped selling merchandise associated with the Confederate flag.

No matter how historians try to justify the flag as being a historically accurate battle flag, it comes off as an attempt to forget the fact the Confederacy lost the way. It’s an awkward symbol of the losing team that’s being celebrated and remembered.

In sports, there are no rewards for coming in second place, but why is this losing team being held in such high regard?

To whom it offends, it can also look like an excuse of the ideology and position the Confederate soldiers believed in.

The San Antonio Spurs will not be remembered as the runner-up to the Miami Heat in 2013, and Alabama will not be remembered as runner-up to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Maybe it’s time to get in line, shake hands and say “good game.”