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Confederates on the Campus “Dixie” and Secession

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Author: Bloom, Lois; College of William and Mary. Lemon Project
Abstract: Confederates on the Campus: “Dixie” and Secession Lois Bloom, Ph.D. Two long traditions on campus greeted the first black undergraduates who integrated William and Mary in the late 1960s and early 1970s. One had the school band playing “Dixie” at William and Mary football games as students and others stood to clap and sing along. Evidently no one questioned the practice until the week before the 1969 Homecoming Game, when students objected to the song as a “symbol of one of the worst periods in American history” and threatened to demonstrate and burn the Confederate flag in protest if the song was played at the Homecoming game. As a result, the College Band Director announced that the band would not play “Dixie” and, furthermore, the tune had been dropped from the band’s musical selections. Another tradition was an annual parade of the Kappa Alpha fraternity, marching from the Colonial Capital to the intersection where Duke of Gloucester street meets the college campus and dressed in Confederate uniforms. There the fraternity president handed a sword to a member of the College administration to signify the fraternity’s temporary secession from the College for a weekend in Virginia Beach. In 1971, the College Vice-President who was to accept the sword, pronounced the parade and ceremonies “symbolic of the chivalry and traditions of the Old South. There is nothing racial in it at all.” The Black Student Organization disagreed and staged a counter demonstration, considering the event “an insult to the blacks on campus” and a symbol of “the perpetuation of traditional Southern prejudices.” Nevertheless, the tradition evidently continued for at least another decade.
Issued Date: 2013-10-23
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/21127
Citation: Lemon Project Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary.

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