by Claudia Brunson
The recent protest concerning the Confederate flag in the state of Mississippi and around the rest of the South has prompted the Millsaps community to change the face of the Majors mascot to prevent social discrimination against minorities at Millsaps College.
The decision to change the mascot was made last year and the process of changing the mascot began in the spring. The communications department and the Athletic Department have been working vigorously to create a mascot that the entire Millsaps community can enjoy.
The legacy behind the Major Reuben is rooted deeply in Southern history. Reuben Webster Millsaps, the founder of the school, was a member of the Confederate Army and fought in the Civil War. He attained the title ‘Major’ after suffering two injuries during the war. However, few people know that Major Reuben actually denounced his role in the Confederate Army, and decided to not associate with the Confederacy any longer.
Executive Director of Programming and President of Programs and Activities Council Samesa Hoskin believes that designing a new mascot and putting a more socially accepted face on Major Reuben will embody the spirit of Millsaps College’s progressive attitude.
“Millsaps has a history of being moderately progressive, so it would just perpetuate our image of being an accepting campus, being socially aware and caring about the minorities and responding to the social issues today,” Hoskin says.
Sophomore Krystal Jackson agrees Millsaps has made the right decision to redesign the mascot, noting that the mascot was very similar to the University of Mississippi’s Colonel Reb.
“…Already coming in as a minority and hearing about the history of Millsaps and hearing about its founder, I understand that its integration was voluntary, but that still leaves me kind of skeptical.” Jackson says. “So I was not so much offended as I was afraid, because a school founded by a confederate man in Mississippi, a predominantly white institution— as a black student coming here that puts instant fear in you.”
As far as the design of the new mascot goes, students only know that Major Reuben will still be the mascot but he will be in different costume.
Athletic Director Josh Brooks has been involved in the process designing a new mascot for the school. He hopes that this new mascot will improve the image that people who have never visited or lived in the state might have about Mississippi.
“…I think the mascot and those symbols can cast a negative image on what people would view as Mississippi,” Brooks says. “It is a symbol of so many bad things. It is a symbol, I should say, of a perception of what people think of Jackson, Mississippi, and I think that this will give us a chance to shave that negative image and create a new positive one, one that we can all feel good about.”
A release date for the new mascot has not been set yet, but students can expect to see Major Reuben and his new style soon. The communications and athletic departments are making sure that they take their time to create a mascot that embodies the Millsaps spirit.
“Don’t know yet [when we will unveil the new mascot],” Brooks says. “There is a lot of work and we are trying not to rush it and trying to move too quickly. We are really trying to take our time and make the best decision.”
Hoskin hopes that students will be accepting of the new mascot and understand that changing the mascot was for the betterment of the school.
“Generally, I hope that the student population will be happy about it because this was done with good intention,” Hoskin says. “I have not heard much negativity about it, but I am sure there are always some negatives and there are always some positives. But generally, I [hope] that everyone should be okay with it.”