Ole Miss student takes a stand for tolerance by sitting

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Matt Barnthouse

An Ole Miss student is taking a stand for tolerance by spending time each day seated in front of an Ole Miss symbol of equality.

“I sit out here an hour a day to show everyone that no matter your religion, your race, your sexual orientation, your gender, your socioeconomic status, we all came to the University of Mississippi for education,” said student Correl Hoyle Gibbs.

Every week day, Gibbs sits in front of the James Meredith statue for one hour with a sign that reads “Hakuna Matata, you know what it means.”

The phrase is Swahili for “no worries.”

Gibbs began his daily ritual following the incidents last year on the Ole Miss campus involving “The Laramie Project,” and more recently, the noosing of the James Meredith statue.

“My professor, who is no longer here, Edward Cooper Owens, (challenged) the classroom to do something about it,” said Gibbs. “Some people rallied around the campus in the circle. Some people sat in a room and organized signs. I decided to personally come out here the week after the noosing.”

Despite the controversial incidents on campus, Gibbs sees progress in the culture at Ole Miss. He thinks Ole Miss has come a long way in the 52 years since James Meredith’s hotly contested enrollment at Ole Miss in 1962. However, Gibbs still believes Ole Miss has a long way to go.

“We are self-segregating,” Gibbs said. “If you look in the cafeteria, it’s white people, black people, Asian-Americans, Indian-Americans – everyone is separated.

“Look at the fraternities. They are also separated. So, we do this to ourselves. It’s not some law that makes us separate but equal, but instead, we have our own fears and concerns that we have to pertain in ourselves. Not saying everybody is like that, but we haven’t grown out of our shells so to speak.”

Gibbs said he tries to reach out to others who are different than he is.

“I try not to judge because somebody acts differently on the outside,” he said, “even though we are all guilty of that, because it’s kind of a bitter tree that is in-rooted in all of us. . . Ole Miss has changed, but change takes a long time.”

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