In August, the University of Mississippi’s Pride of the South band removed fan favorite “Dixie” from their music lineup. Since then, it has not been played in the Grove or during halftime at Ole Miss football games.
The university’s athletic department requested that the band exclude the traditional tune from all game day performances in order to make game day a more inclusive experience for all Rebel fans. The dismissal of the song has caused much controversy between students, alumni and Rebel football fans alike.
“Dixie” made its debut during Ole Miss game day festivities in 1948. The song, reportedly, was the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy during the Civil War, and has been a staple in Oxford since.
Over the past several years, University of Mississippi chancellors have made arrangements to lessen performances of the song, but this is the first time it has been fully banned.
The first game during which “Dixie” was not played was the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1, 2016, and the decision to ban the song all-together was made the following summer. The song lyrics refer to the South as the ideal place to live.
Many students believe the song is an integral part of the game day experience and believe the song should be played in the Grove and on the football field.
Rebel Football fan Frank Davis said, no matter what kind of connotation the song has, it is still a part of Ole Miss game day.
“[Dixie] is just a song,” he said. “Some people have different perspectives on things, but it is still just a song. If playing “Dixie” is a tradition, then the band has a right to play it at every game.”
UM student Emily Blum believes The Pride of the South playing “Dixie” on a Saturday in Oxford is a tradition that cannot be replaced. She describes Ole Miss as a campus rooted in tradition and said changing a time-honored game day ritual is not beneficial to the school in any way.
“The band used to play [Dixie] every game day,” she said. “Taking away the song won’t change that. It just ruins a tradition that has been a part of Ole Miss for years.”
UM student Gates Moore agrees with Davis and Blum. “I don’t think the university should be involved with changing traditions,” he said. “The song is nothing more than a way to get the crowd excited for the game, and if the band wants to play it, they should be allowed to.”
While some students firmly believe “Dixie” should continue to be played, others feel like the song causes division among Ole Miss football fans, and the university was right in disaffiliating with the song.
Holly McGinnis associates “Dixie” with the Civil War. She believes the song illustrates oppression towards African Americans during the early 1860s.
“I think it was a great idea for the athletic department to ban the song,” she states. “It was the battle song of the Confederacy, and it represents hatred.”
McGinnis believes banning the song will make all football fans feel more comfortable and welcomed at Ole Miss football games. By not playing the song, she thinks Ole Miss will be seen in a better light by people across the country.
Whether the decision to drop “Dixie” from the list of traditions is beneficial to the university or not, Ole Miss football is still being played, and Rebel fans will still attend games, tailgate at the Grove, and line the Walk of Champions to high-five their favorite players.
Old times here might be forgotten, but one thing that will never change is the love that Rebel fans have for Ole Miss football.
“I don’t care what the band plays,” UM student Ryan Gill said. “[Dixie] was a tradition, but things change. It’s still Ole Miss football, and that is all that should really matter.”