SI Insider: University of Mississippi Has Made Strides to Distance Itself from a History of Racism and Its Nickname Might Be Next to Go

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There has been plenty of discussion and speculation around the nickname 'Ole Miss' along with the University of Mississippi's mascot the Rebels might be going away. SI's Pat Forde shares the steps the university is doing to distance itself from a racist past.

As waves of change reverberated around the United States and specifically within college football regarding race relations and what's in the past at various universities, the University of Mississippi seems like a logical next place to turn. And there's already been some speculation and discussion about whether the term 'Ole Miss' which is the way almost everyone there refers to the university, has roots in racism. And, of course, the nickname Rebels, which does go back to the Confederate side of the Civil War. There's been a lot of problems over the years with Mississippi, a state that has a very tortured racial history. But the school has made considerable efforts to try to distance itself from some of its past Confederate iconography, the stars and Bars Confederate flag that was up a lot in evidence at football games there is no longer allowed. The school song, "Dixie" is no longer played, and the mascot, Colonel Reb, he has been done away with. But are there more steps to take? A lot of people think so. The term Ole Miss, not one hundred percent verifiable where it came from, but there is widespread academic speculation or belief that it was from the African-American dialect of slaves. And that was referencing the plantation wife, the wife of the plantation owner as Ole Miss, and the plantation owner as Ole Massa. As far as "Rebel" that is, of course, what the Confederate side was referred to. UNLV has the same nickname, obviously a little bit less problematic history there than there has been at Mississippi. But these are questions that that school is probably going to have to deal with here in the coming days, weeks, months, years, as America continues to try to kind of unspool some of its racist past.