Letter to the Editor: Minority Coalition stance on college name change

OPINION-EDITORIAL – As part of the transition of Dixie State College into a full fledged university, the debate on whether the name Dixie – along with all it’s Confederate connotations – has escalated in the recent weeks, as emotions on both sides of the issue fly high. Therefore, as a Minority Coalition dedicated to advocating for the Minorities of Southern Utah, we feel we must take an official stand on this issue.

The same flag that is flown proudly at KKK rallies is seen on campus. The same soldiers, who enslaved the African people, are glorified in statue form on campus. This issue goes far beyond just the use of the word Dixie. This is about glorifying a dark part of US history. The college is looking to expand it’s horizons as a university. If that college wants to open it’s doors to a national and international student base, we feel it is mandatory that the college not only changes the name of the school, but rids itself of it’s Confederate theme.

Having attended the most recent name change forum at the St. George Community Arts Center, it was apparent how high emotions are on both sides of the coin. A good majority of the former alumni in attendance proudly supported keeping the name Dixie. “If you don’t like it, then you can leave” was the common attitude felt there. Many of the alumni stated they do not like the idea of people who aren’t from here, or who haven’t been here as long as they have, trying to change this area’s tradition. The question we want to propose to these individuals is: Are minorities not part of this community too? Because you have lived here longer, does that mean your opinion is more important than Minorities? This isn’t about “outsiders” trying to come here and stir the pot. We all are part of this community, with a vested interest in what’s best for this area. It is a shame that individuals will try to trivialize someone who is simply taking a stand for themselves by lording over them how they’ve been here longer. If you live in this community, if you pay taxes here, if you pay tuition at Dixie, you are just as much a part of this community as anyone else is whether you’ve been here 50 years or 5 years. Minorities are part of this community too. The Native American and Mexican people have been apart of this region for centuries, it would be foolish to claim they have no say in what goes on here.

This is so much more than just the name Dixie in and of itself. It’s about the Confederate theme that comes along with it. It’s about the fact that pictures in old Dixie yearbooks show performances being done in blackface, as well as mock slave auctions. The majority of supporters for Dixie say Dixie is about their roots. Well, to people of color, Dixie and Confederacy is about racism and slavery. It is a slap in the face to Black people, as well as other minorities. The pictures say it all; those images are offensive and an insult, condoning Confederate imagery on top of that just adds salt to the wound. So many individuals simply could not and would not see the ties to racism. Even when shown the pictures by a WCMC board member of the blackface performances, the crowd responding by heckling. A refusal to see what minorities see was apparent at Thursdays forum. If you do not believe Dixie and Confederate images are racist and offensive, then we suggest you ask those who are victims of racism and know what it’s like to be discriminated against. Until then, in our opinion, it is simply unfair to make such an assumption.

In conclusion, this is a pivotal moment for the college and for the community. Making the transition from State College to University status will open new doors for this area. It will lead to positive change and growth. Something this area needs. However, we feel in order for the new University to expand as much as they want, the name Dixie along with the statue needs to go. The same flag that you see at any KKK rally is in statue form on campus. Those pictures of performances in blackface are an insult. This is what Dixie and Confederacy means to people of color, who are just as much apart of this community as anyone else. Apologies should be made on behalf of the school for those images, a change needs to be made in the name, and we feel the statue needs to go. Once those changes are made, the college will have made the right step in the direction of growth. Until then, in our opinion, the school is only hindering a very pivotal moment for them. Change the name, get rid of the Confederate theme, remove the statue, and let’s work together for a more united and positive community.

Submitted by: Jon Martin
Washington County Minority Coalition

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26 Comments

  • San December 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Before reading this well written letter I had no idea why it’s so important (for some) to rename this college when it transitions to a University. As much as I’d like to believe that some people are being over-sensitive, the writer is probably on-point…Utah is very much ‘provincially minded’. From the dress code to the little inflections in people’s voices, there’s a secret code that denotes “you’re one of us”. I have resented it for the entire 10 years we’ve lived here. When my Californian, Baptist, sensibilities weren’t appreciated my attitude became “…then stop accepting our money”. I think there is a very much two-communities who passively co-exist in Southern Utah. We can do better than that…I say ‘we’ because I live here, and have invested my life savings here, raised my family here, same as ‘pioneers’. I get it that people who came over the mountains would have starved to death if they hadn’t banded together, but we can do better now. If finding a more ‘inclusionary’ name will assist with helping transplants feel welcome in St. George…a community who depends on tourism and home arts to survive…then I say rename the school and get over. it. By the way, this is not an LDS issue…I’m LDS now…it’s about accepting new ideas, in a growing community.

    • Tyler December 4, 2012 at 9:24 am

      If you left Christianity for Mormonism you were never a Christian. How sad.

  • Harvelyn Christensen December 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    My aunt Dixie is not a member of the KKK

  • Dan Mabbutt December 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Before I moved to Color Country, I went to school in coal country: Carbon County. I remember when “Carbon College” became “The College of Eastern Utah.” It seems to me that something died that day. It will always be “Carbon College” to me!

    Before Dixie merged with the University of Utah, the Dixie mascot was called, “The Rebel.” The official Dixie web site states that Rebel is not an option going forward.

    It’s kind of sad, really. Reb the Red Hawk was only around from 2005 to 2007. So the University of Utah and Dixie have turned out to be the kind of institutions that go around killing two year olds. I have to admit that Reb the Red Hawk was a step up. Before that, it was Rodney Rebel. Seriously! According to news reports at the time, “Reb the Red Hawk was selected in an online poll … Chris Taylor, a spokesman for the college at the time, said, “students wanted to make sure that the ‘rebel’ nickname sticks.” So much for democracy. Just wait a couple of years and then do whatever you like.

  • Mart December 3, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Come on people have we not moved passed 1861-1865. The Confedrate Flag is about a time in our history. I highly dout Dixie State Collage is trying to make people think it is a racised school in anyway, Or myself or any other member of our communities alumni are racised. How is it that UNLV Runnin Rebels, seems to get along just fine. I don’t here anyone trying to change there name. I think it time we move passed this !!!!! “Utah’s Dixie Forever”.

  • Curtis December 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    I too went to Carbon College in Price and felt bad when the school turned its back on the heritage — mostly positive — of the community it served.
    You can take Dixie out of the name of the university but you can’t take the university out of Utah’s Dixie Keeping Dixie out of the school’s name to attract faculty and students from out of the area is a form of bait-and-switch. The school is in Utah’s Dixie and the name is omnipresent — from the name of the hospital to a high school to a national forest to pages in the phone book and the businesses they represent.
    In the past the superficial connections between Dixie State and the eleven states of the Confederacy were unfortunate and they have all been eliminated except for the statue which should go.
    It would be unfortunate if the new university were to turn its back on its heritage and implicitly label as racists the thousands of residents and college supporters who are proud of being in Utah’s Dixie

    • Roy J December 4, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      Really good points, Curtis! The omnipresence of the Dixie should be an obvious reminder to people not to take a name too seriously.
      However, if people must get up in arms about names, would they please consider changing the street names, too? We have generally stopped naming our mascots Indians or Redmen, but what about the names of our towns, even our homes? Paiute, Klickitat, Seattle, Dakota…Woot!

  • Karen December 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    The story attributed to the two Confederate soldiers and memorialized by the statue at the college is incorrect. The real story occurred on the Union side of the war, not the Confederate side. It is time to correct that misinformation by removing the statue. I’m sure some donor would love to have it their yard.

    • Karen December 3, 2012 at 10:46 pm

      I found more information about the story. Actually it is from a poem and song written about the Civil War called “Two Little Boys.” It was written about Union soldiers, not Confederate soldiers. The first known statue was created by another sculptor and was done with Union soldiers like the poem. Not sure where it is located in the United States.

  • Chris December 3, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    If one wishes to attack the Confederate Battle flag, based on the idea that it represented the Southern States, which fought a bloody war to preserve the institution of slavery…then they are wallowing in ignorance over the very meaning and overall concern of the war. Until they learn the truth behind the Confederate Flag and the War itself, they will continue to harbor hate and anger toward the South … making them to be the cause of most of the divisiveness and hate crimes. Might I suggest a bit more study to overcome this ridiculous notion. Please, Jon Martin, read a book and educate yourself so you don’t look like a fool!

    • Jon Martin December 5, 2012 at 8:01 am

      How about this. I’ll go read a book if you do the same. Why should we both get to look like fools? And quite frankly, your not doing a much better job in that department than I am.

  • Kody December 4, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Dixie isn’t in any way linked to racism. Yeah the word came along during the civil word times but it is a fancy word to say Southern. I know many black people that isn’t offended with the word Dixie or anything like that. I will get all my black friends from my home and prove it. The whole point they are making is beyond stupid and tradition should stand and the Rebel flag isn’t the actually CSA flag that is the battle flag they used during battles to know which side was the CSA and USA. I come from living in the area of the country for 25 and a half years of 27 years I been alive in states that was apart of the Civil War (Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas) and not a single black person I have ever made was offended by the word Dixie. KKK is just a bunch of stupid white people that believe whites should rule the world. Which everyone knows that but if they change Dixie State name than they have to removed the D in St George because it stands for Dixie and everything else in St George that has the word Dixie in it. Honestly it should be Dixie State University and end of story.

  • Sunshine Girl December 4, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Why would you come to a place that is soooo offensive to you??? Why would you invest your life saving if you think this is such a horrible place??? Obviously people are coming here in droves because they like what DIXIE has to offer. Why change what has worked for so many years? Why stomp your feet, cry and try to change the heritage here??Why should we have to conform to YOUR beliefs because YOU say people are offended?? We clearly have enough students (of ALL races and backgrounds- I might add) attending Dixie to be able to achieve university status, so we are not struggling to get students to attend! It would have been really nice if you educated yourself before demanding changing Dixie’s name because of the confederate theme…. This area was named Dixie long before the civil war and having been a resident for 17 years and choosing to raise my children here, I can attest that we do not preach, teach or condone racism in any way shape or form. We are a kind loving community with lots to offer. We have always had tons of tourists that flock here…if they were offended they would not come. We have had plenty of students and staff members from all races that LOVE Dixie and don’t have these feelings. I witnessed more racists people in other states then I EVER have here! I do have to agree that if you only came here to change it then you should leave and find some place more suitable to comfort levels. Oh but wait you are a professional complainer and will constantly look for ways to be offended where ever you go. What a sad world you live in. People it’s a CHOICE to be offended! What’s next on your agenda list…Changing the D on the hill…..changing the name of the Dixie center, taking Dixie out of Dixie Regional? Demanding the term Dixie be removed from the English language…….If Dixie state administrations caves and gives into these bullies (because that’s truly what you are) I really hope they lose the support of our community

  • Karen December 4, 2012 at 10:47 am

    A historical note. The Cotton Mission was established by Brigham Young in 1861 as the Civil War began. President Young thought cotton might be in short supply and since the climate of the area was mild, it was thought that the saints could produce enough cotton to meet their needs as well as sell it to others. It was only after the Cotton Mission was established, chiefly by saints from the southern states, that the area became known as “Utah’s Dixie.”

  • Sean December 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    “This is so much more than just the name Dixie in and of itself. It’s about the Confederate theme that comes along with it.”
    If the minority coalition truly believes in this statement, then they should leave the name alone and spend their time fixing the beliefs of the few who do believe that Dixie is somehow related to slavery.
    In a way, this group is like the Confederates themselves. The Confederates were standing for what they believed. They wanted the freedom to do business as they have always done. Ultimately they were wrong to deny the same right to other human beings and they lost because of this principle. This group should not deny the community the right to use the name because of their own misleading beliefs.
    Even as a former Dixie Rebel, I never connected Dixie with slavery. Anyone who does believe that should be the one who needs to change.

    Freedom is what brings us together as a community, not eliminating a name.

    • MShabazz December 5, 2012 at 7:58 am

      Unless you know what racism is, you have no business saying what’s racist or not. I’m sorry.

      • ken December 5, 2012 at 11:57 am

        I’m sorry been when you can’t do anything but repeat the same comment you have no business commenting!

  • Roy J December 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    In fact, rereading this article and the responses, I’d like to also say that the Confederate flag at one time
    represented a minority voice, which did not only speak wrongly about the right to slave ownership, but also spoke rightly against the economic slavery imposed by capitalists, industrialism, and wild eyed speculation, all of which did eventually lead our country into the Great War and the Depression. It is also a symbol of individual rebellion against the police state as popularized by the ‘Dukes of Hazard’ and the General Lee. Jon Martin, the author of this article, has taken a very narrow view, I think, of what that particular symbol has, does, and can, stand for. But like some other people here have already mentioned, you might as well rename the national forest while you’re at it. People must get offended GPSing that insulting garbage everyday around these parts! Woot!

    • Steve December 5, 2012 at 8:11 am

      Actually, I do think Dixie National Forest should be renamed, not because there is anything wrong with the word Dixie, but because the forest is not in Utah’s Dixie. Utah’s Dixie is the lower elevation area bounded by the Beaver Dam Mountains, the Pine Valley Mountains, the Black Ridge, the Hurricane Cliffs, and the Arizona border.

  • pete December 5, 2012 at 10:22 am

    what is your favorite place to eat?

    imagine going there for lunch tomorrow and there is a sign on the door saying “NO BLACKS ALLOWED.”

    having that sign up would make that a racist establishment.

    until 1978, the LDS church did not allow blacks into the church, or they were only allowed part membership. (so imagine the sign at the restaurant saying”BLACKS ONLY ALLOWED TO EAT OUTSIDE ON ASPHALT.”)

    that makes the lds church a racist organization until 1978. and who started dixie state college? and when?

    the lds church started dixie state college. in the early 1900’s. when they were classified racists.

    so a racist(at the time) organization starts a school(or business or whatever) and names it dixie……..

    sure sounds wrong to me.

  • pete December 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

    “..Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” – JoD: vol.10 p. 110: (March 8, 1863)

    a quote by LDS leader brigham young.

    not racist at all. ha ha

    dixie needs to go

  • ken December 5, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Pete your problem seems to be with the LDS church and not the name of Dixie! Any name could be considered racist by a certain group. Time has come and gone for being oversensitive. Time to name it Dixie State University.

  • Roger December 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    What’s in a name? Is the name-change being prompted by green outsiders, over-sensitive minorities and ultra-liberal activists? I don’t think so. I am from here, with a pioneer pedigree. The university stands at a critical crossroad, one fork leading to the possibility of academic excellence and the other fork leading toward academic obscurity. The name change is about the future, not about the past. It is about the possibility of the school becoming a world-class university. The name Dixie may seem fine for a small-town college where expectations are rock-bottom and the bulk of the students come from and remain in Utah. What’s in a name? If you DON’T live in Southern Utah, what do you think is the first thing that comes into your head when you hear the word Dixie? Is it the Dukes of Hazzard? Is it confederate flags, missing teeth, intolerance, moonshine and guns? Strange fruit? Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn? Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with Southern Utah, it is not neutral and does not evoke images of intelligence, education and reverence for humanity. It is the opposite. Think about taking your degree and applying for a job outside of Utah. Think about the university trying to attract the best faculty and administration from around the world. If you want to limit the school to being a cloistered, small-town, FTW campus with the lowest expectations, keep the name Dixie; if you want a better educational future for the community and better opportunities for the students, pick a different name.

  • Walter Ring December 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Of course it is only nonwhites’ opinions that matter since only nonwhites were discriminated against and enslaved. White people know nothing of racism since they were always the oppressors. To hell with White people, they all need to go back to Europe. Get rid of the Confederate Flag, it is racist. Replace it with the African flag since only Africans were enslaved by White people. Never mind that other Africans captured these Africans and sold them to Whites, facts do not matter. Only nonwhite feelings matter. Take the Confederate statue down and replace it with an African. Black Power, kill Whitey.

  • CR Morrell December 7, 2012 at 5:28 am

    So they do not see the USA flag flying as well because of their color blindness
    what a travesty and shame on the Klan for the bigoted actions

  • Billy Bearden December 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Quoting Jon Martin from above:

    “The same flag that is flown proudly at KKK rallies is seen on campus. The same soldiers, who enslaved the African people, are glorified in statue form on campus. This issue goes far beyond just the use of the word Dixie. This is about glorifying a dark part of US history.”

    Do they not teach factual history to the “Minority Coalition” at DSC?

    Fact:

    Since 1866, the KKK has flown as it’s official flag that of the United States of America. Jon Martin, is your “Minority Coalition” going to set about hauling down all US Flags too, or do your thugs just have selective memory?

    Fact:

    Africans were enslaved as African Kings captured villages, and sold to slavers like the Portugese, Dutch, British and yes, Americans. Those poor captured souls that weren’t sold into bondage were slaughtered. The slavery capitol of the world was and still remains Africa. How many of your “Minority Coalition” members run around using the term “African American”? Were is the pride in a people with a such a vile history of savagery butchery and slavery? Have you ever read what President Theodore Roosevelt said about ‘Hyphenated Americanism’?

    ‘Diversity’ and ‘Tolerance’ are blatant code words for Ethnic Cleansing. I promotes alternate lifestyles and exotic cultures and immoral behavior while shunning moral values, tradition, family, established and accepted standards. Plus it is open season on everything that is white. Double points for males, triple points for Christians.

    Fact:

    A ‘dark part of American history’ can be found on the Great Seal and State Flag of New York. On it we see a little ship. The ship represents “Commerce”. The Seal was created in the 1700’s, and at that time, New Yorks biggest commerce was in the slave trade – NOT the south, certainly not anything “Dixie” related. Slave ships hailed from northern ports of call, built in northern shipyards. Slavery was protected and enshrined in the US Constitution and legal in the United States for 89 years.

    No Mr Martin, you represent the worst of what America can become, and is devolving into. You and your group of thugs are full of Ethnic Cleansing. YOU, Emporer, have no clothes. Your ideas reek of cultural marxism, taken right out of the Communist Manfesto.

    Replace the Statue, Retsore the Honor!

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