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Controversy Erupts Over College Calling Itself ‘Dixie’

A college in Utah that’s 102-years-old, Dixie State College, is expected to become a full-fledged university in the coming months, and with that comes an official name change.

But whether that name will continue the tradition with “Dixie University” remains to be seen.

Many folks in the Southwest Utah region, where the college is located, say the name Dixie simply honors the state’s past and its settlers. Meanwhile, the Salt Lake City chapter of the NAACP is totally against it.

An article by Ben Winslow, a reporter with a Fox News affiliate in the area, reported this week on the ongoing controversy:

Discussion about changing the school’s name when it gains university status has brought heated debate at recent public meetings. Supporters of “Dixie” say it is an integral part of southern Utah’s history — Mormon pioneers used the term when they settled in the area to grow cotton. …

… The word “Dixie” appears on many businesses and landmarks in the Washington County area, from Dixie Regional Medical Center to the Dixie Palms Motel on the St. George Boulevard. The word “Dixie” is lit up at night on a red rock cliffside overlooking the city. …

Opponents claim the school has a history of racism. They point to pictures in Dixie College’s yearbook — titled “The Confederate” — that show Homecoming Queens carrying the Confederate flag, the old mascot “The Rebel,” and white people performing school skits in “blackface.”

A few weeks ago, a statue of a confederate soldier was finally removed from campus. Opponents cheered while some alumni were incensed.

… Says St. George Mayor Dan McArthur: “… Dixie is a place, and in this place, it happens to be southwest Utah and we’re proud of the fact that we are called Dixie.”

The Salt Lake Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is now weighing in on the controversy. … President Jeanetta Williams said their board voted to support removing the name “Dixie” from the school. … (She) said she believes Utah’s “Dixie” is still too tied to the Civil War, slavery and racism.

“We feel that the name Dixie should be removed and that they could come up with another name other than Dixie,” she said. “We would support St. George University. We would support even Red Rock, because of the red rock there in the area. Any other name other than the name Dixie.”

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