Silver Rights

News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004  

News: Southern college loses its colonel

Should an Old South colonel be the emblem of a college? The issue has been resolved at a achool in Mississippi. A junior college has decided to retire "Tillou," its mascot, but keep the team name "Colonels." For those not familiar with Southern history, 'colonel' was traditionally used to refer to white, male authority figures. It derives from the veneration of Confederate soldiers by some white Southerners. The most famous colonel is, of course, the white-haired visage associated with Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Nicholls State University has retired Tillou, its costumed mascot that some students likened to a Confederate soldier, but will keep the Colonels nickname, the Thibodaux school's president announced Thursday.

. . .Francis T. Nicholls Junior College of Louisiana State University was founded in 1948. The Legislature separated it from the LSU system in 1956, and faculty members selected the colonel mascot to celebrate the highest office its many ROTC cadets could attain.

Nicholls, (pictured) the school's namesake, was a Confederate brigadier general and later served as governor and state Supreme Court justice. His middle name was Tillou.

Some students have periodically objected to the colonel character Tillou, who dances on the sidelines at athletic events. They said Tillou was a reminder of the Old South that doesn't represent a campus where 17 percent of the 7,262 students are black.

The college has hired consultants to help it develop a more contemporary 'brand.'

I agree with the decision to retire the colonel mascot and emblem. However, the use of this imagery does not irritate me as much as some other behaviors that embrace the Confederacy and/or opposition to racial equality. The Confederate flag issue in Georgia would rate a seven on my scale, with a ten being high. Affirmative action bake sales, which are designed to humiliate minority students in a very direct way, a nine maybe. A silly old Confederate mascot? A four or five.

No change of the college's name has been proposed. Perhaps, down the road, Mississippians will progress enough to decide Confederate leaders should not be honored by having institutions named after them.

An aspect of the Tillou controversy that catches my eye is when the mascot and emblem were created. 1956. That was in the early years of many Southern States' involvement in the Massive Resistance movement. It was a somewhat successful effort to prevent integration of public facilities, including schools. The movement lasted well into the 1970s in hard-core resister states such as Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. Neo-Confederates and their sympathizers like to claim their reverence for 'heritage' dates back to the Civil War itself. But, much of the time, the symbols being used to incite racial tensions were pressed into service during the 1950s and 1960s as part of Massive Resistance.

No change of the college's name has been proposed. Perhaps, down the road, Mississippians will progress enough to decide Confederate leaders should not be honored by having institutions named after them.

Good-bye, Tillou. Don't come back, now.

posted by J. | 11:15 PM

Monday, April 05, 2004  

Entertainment: Buddy Guy charms at Rolling Stone

If you missed Rolling Stone's most recent interview of Buddy Guy, you will want to correct that oversight. It slipped by me, only to turn up on Avantgo's Rolling Stone channel on my PDA. Thanks, AG! The man Eric Clapton is said to consider the greatest living guitarist was fit as a fiddle and ready to talk. Guy is expansive about the legacy of blues music he is part of, and, how the Guy family legacy will be carried on.

At sixty-seven, Guy remains an electrifying performer, as liable to summon up the sound of Jimi Hendrix as that of the blues greats he grew up on, such as B.B. King or Guitar Slim. Next up: He plans to release sixteen live double CDs from a month long residency at Legends, his own Chi-town club. "My kids didn't know who I was till they turned twenty-one and saw me in that club," says Guy. "Then they said, 'My God, Dad, I didn't know you could do that!' "

Do you remember the first music you ever heard?

Church music out in the country in Louisiana. We didn't have keyboards or anything, so you'd just have to put voices together. Later on, my dad got one of those wind-up toys, a phonograph. Then we heard Arthur Crudup and Lonnie Johnson and Lightnin' Hopkins.

Later in life you met Crudup, Johnson and Hopkins. What was that like?

I never felt I was good enough to shake hands with those guys. I met Lonnie Johnson onstage in Toronto in 1968. I just about fell out! I was so shocked I couldn't turn his hand a-loose. He had to shake it loose. But looking back on it, I must've played something right for those guys to say hi to me.

How do you rate yourself among the guitar greats?

There's no comparison. It's like stacking up a boxer of today against Ali, Louis or Marciano. I got a chance to see and play with guys like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King -- those shoes will never be filled. They had something. If you were interviewing Muddy or Wolf, you'd be tapping your feet -- because they talk the music. I don't have that.

As is typical of him, Guy is humble about his talent and more likely to direct depracatory remarks at himself than to tout his achievements. However, he does exercise bragging rights in the interview -- about his baby girl.

Do you ever watch MTV?

Yeah -- my youngest daughter, Shawnna, is in a video with Ludacris and one with Mariah Carey. Her face is more famous than mine! She's got a CD out this year.

Would you like to know what instrument Guy can't play, but he wishes he could? Read the full interview and find out.

I happened to read the Rolling Stone interview of Guy while sitting under the dryer at the hairdresser. I must have been grinning like an idiot because a couple folks asked me what I found so entertaining. If you have seen Buddy Guy perform, you know he infuses an audience with goodwill. Even in print, the blues man will make you happy.

Note: Learn more about Rashawwna Guy here.

posted by J. | 11:45 PM