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Kneeling During the Anthem at Ole Miss: ‘I Needed to Stand Up for My Rights’

In a letter to students, faculty and staff members last week, the university’s interim chancellor, Larry Sparks, wrote that while the university administration condemns racism, bigotry and hatred, the public spaces on campus are open for people to express their views, even if they are found to be offensive and contrary to the university’s pursuits. Discussions about removing the Confederate monument, meanwhile, crawl along.

“Movements for change and resistance do seem to happen in a more amplified or concentrated way here,” said Foster, who earned his undergraduate degree at Ole Miss. “Those easy metrics of change always come at the hands and the feet of young people, folks that dare to be brave and forward and do the things that are uncomfortable — especially with respect to the administration and people of power on this campus.”

One of those people is Shadoria Anderson, who graduated two years ago and is a missionary for the Chi Alpha student ministry. Outside the political science building on Monday, she and students encouraged passers-by to write their thoughts on a series of boards that posed a question: “Racial Reconciliation: What’s Your Dream?”

Though Saturday’s demonstration, which drew about 60 pro-Confederate demonstrators, turned out to be largely uneventful, Anderson said it created a great deal of tension for people of color on campus. She lauded the basketball players for taking a knee before their game, which gave a local issue a broader platform.

“Our athletes are held in high regard on campus — they’re celebrities,” Anderson said.

“A lot of people are afraid to ‘Colin Kaepernick,’” she added, using shorthand for kneeling during the anthem, “so I was very pleased. This helps the conversation when they say, ‘Yes, I’m a basketball player, but I’m not going to sit here and dance for you. I’m going to take a stand.’ ”

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