With the 30 for 30 film "Ghosts of Oxford" airing tonight, I held a chat to discuss the events that took place surrounding the integration of James Meredith in to Ole Miss and the 1962 football team that ran the table.
Here's a quick preview if you missed it:
Parker (Lookout Mtn, TN)
Really looking forward to watching this. Have called a few buddies to remind this as well. May even get my mind off my Vols and the coaching rumors for a while!
Edward Aschoff (1:06 PM)
It really is a powerful story. This team was watching as the world was changing all around it and all it wanted to do was play football and do what it knew. Then it got caught up in a firestorm on its campus. Riots. The army. Two deaths. How these guys stayed focus through all of that is just amazing. To go undefeated with all those distractions is hard to believe as well. They started the year as football players, and then turned into real people in the real world.
John Walker (Tarboro, NC)
I was a 12 year old kid at the Ole Miss-Kentucky game the weekend everything broke loose. I have been in the newspaper business since I was 17 and wrote this column about that game and the integration of UM ... http://dailysoutherner.com/opinion/x354175518/Remember-all-history-good-and-bad
Edward Aschoff (1:10 PM)
I think that it's always important to remember both sides. Integration at Ole Miss was a very controversial issue. Obviously, today's world doesn't deal with race relations the same way, but I've always been told that you'll never know who you really are or where you're going until you know where you've been and where you've come from. I think Ole Miss and the state of Mississippi face that with a story like this. It's hard for a lot of people to believe how big of an issue this really was for the university and the people in and around it. It just shows you how far we've come as a society and how far Ole Miss has come as well.
How much of impact do you believe the events that took place surrounding James Meredith's enrollment have on recruiting top African American prospects today for Ole Miss?
Edward Aschoff (1:15 PM)
i think it does have an impact. Remember, Ole Miss was the last SEC school to integrate its football team and while that happened years and years ago, it's still a topic of conversation in the recruiting world. It's used in negative recruiting and it's something that has hurt this team when it comes to recruiting. The issue with the confederate flags being in the stadium certainly turned off a lot of athletes, no matter their race. Obviously, they aren't allowed in the stadium anymore, but all a coach has to do is bring up Ole Miss' dreadful pass when it comes to race relations and high school athletes can get uncomfortable. Sure, things have certainly changed, but I'm sure it's still something that high school players talk about and I"m sure they talk to Ole Miss coaches about it.
How do you think the school and state have grown over the last 50 years? What will it take for those outside to see the growth?
Edward Aschoff (1:26 PM)
They have to go in and see for themselves. Growing up a biracial person in Oxford, I've been around plenty of racial incidents, both good and bad. There are always going to be people who say ignorant things. No one is perfect, but people need to realize that there are right-minded people in the state. It's not the 1960s anymore, but I think people who have never been to the state or don't know anyone from the state still think that the negative attitudes from some people back then still remain. Are their people with similar thoughts and feelings? Absolutely, but it isn't the majority and I think people only assume that it is. Visit the state every once and a while.