University of Mississippi Basketball Players Kneel During National Anthem to Protest pro-Confederacy Rally

Several University of Mississippi basketball players kneeled on the court during the national anthem to protest a pro-Confederate rally held nearby on Saturday.

Before the game against the University of Georgia began at The Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, at least six Ole Miss players took the knee while the "The Star-Spangled Banner" played. The incident was captured on video and shared to social media.

Neal McCready, of Rivals.com, shared images of the protest to Twitter and explained that the demonstration was in response to a "pro-Confederate (whatever that is) rally on Oxford's Square today, about a mile from The Pavilion at Ole Miss, where Ole Miss is playing Georgia this afternoon."

Ole Miss' official athletics nickname is "Rebels," which emerged in 1936 after it was selected from over 200 proposed entries submitted to southern sports writers as a part of a contest sponsored by the school's newspaper, at the time named The Mississippian.

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At least six basketball players from the University of Mississippi kneeled during the national anthem before a game against the University of Georgia on Saturday. Screenshot

On Saturday, two opposing groups gathered on campus, one protesting to remove a monument to the Confederacy located on school grounds, and the other in support of keeping it there.

According to The Daily Mississippian, police advised students and school personnel to stay off campus in order to avoid the event. At least 100 protesters and counter-protesters were present on Saturday.

Two pro-Confederate groups — Confederate 901 and The Hiwaymen — marched from the Oxford Square to the Confederate monument on the campus with signs while chanting for the statue, which was placed on the campus in 1907, to remain in place. The protest came after some Ole Miss students held a rally last year to request that the university's administration remove the statute.

Jared Foster, an Ole Miss student and protestor of the monument, told WLOX that the statue's existence glorifies Confederates.

"This campus is not a museum. It doesn't belong in a place that honors it," he said. "I think it needs to be relocated, we believe it needed to be relocated to the Confederate graveyard because it's a monument that honors dead Confederates. It seems logical. or to a museum where people can go to learn about the past and history if they want to."

In 2015, the University of Mississippi removed Mississippi's state flag from campus after a student-led resolution campaigning for its removal was adopted. Mississippi's state flag contains a Confederate emblem and is not displayed at any other public university in the state.

Several cities in Mississippi, including Oxford, also do not fly the state's flag.

"As Mississippi's flagship university, we have a deep love and respect for our state," interim Chancellor Morris Stock said in a statement at the time. "Because the flag remains Mississippi's official banner, this was a hard decision. I understand the flag represents tradition and honor to some. But to others, the flag means that some members of the Ole Miss family are not welcomed or valued."

Feb 24, 8:42 a.m.: This story has been updated to clarify information about the protest and counter-protest, as well as the University of Mississippi's decision to stop flying the Mississippi state flag.

University of Mississippi Basketball Players Kneel During National Anthem to Protest pro-Confederacy Rally | U.S.