How woke is America? Well, it’s so awake that our contemporary idea of inclusion thrives in Alabama. And as a result, the state’s eponymous university could see a change in its heralded longtime fight song.
On September 29th, the Delete Dixie website was launched. Its aim: to exclude a word and therefore include people — who, presumably, aren’t currently included due to the term.
From its “What is DDI” section:
The Delete Dixie Initiative is a coalition of students, faculty, and friends who wish to create a more inclusive campus culture. Our mission is to remove the word, “Dixie,” from the [University of Alabama] Fight Song (“Yea Alabama”) and replace it with a more appropriate term, such as “Bama.”
The site hails history:
Throughout American history, the term “Dixie” has been used in a direct or indirect reference to the Confederacy and the institution of slavery. One of the most well-known uses of the term comes from the 1859 song, “Dixie.” The song was first performed by a minstrel group, a group of white performers dressed in blackface. The performance was intended to represent a freed Black slave longing to return to the plantation of his birth.
“Soon after,” the page asserts, “the song became wildly popular in the south and was used as a Confederate war song.”
DDI is KO’ing the KKK:
In fact, after Jefferson Davis took his oath of office to serve as the president of the Confederacy, the band played “Dixie.” The term “Dixie” grew in popularity between the 1860s-1900s, often used in tandem with the Confederate flag, Ku Klux Klan groups, and other racially insensitive iconography. This was only the beginning.
“We are not the pride of ‘Dixie,’ or of the ‘Old South,’ but instead, the pride of the state of Alabama,” the group insists.
As noted by campus newspaper The Crimson White, U of A didn’t have a fight song until 1926. The year prior, campus humor magazine Rammer Jammer held a contest allowing people to submit contenders. Crimson White editor Ethelred Skyes won. He donated the prize money so an arrangement could be written for the school’s Million Dollar Band. Subsequently, they played the tune during 1926’s football season. Lyrics were inspired by the 1925 season and the 1926 Rose Bowl:
Yea, Alabama! Drown ’em, Tide!
Every Bama man’s behind you, hit your stride
Go teach the Bulldogs to behave
Send the Yellow Jackets to a watery grave
And if a man starts to weaken, that’s a shame!
For Bama’s pluck and grit have writ her name in Crimson flame
Fight on, fight on, fight on, men!
Remember the Rose Bowl, we’ll win then
Go, roll to victory, hit your stride
You’re Dixie’s football pride, Crimson Tide
Roll Tide, Roll Tide!
A 2021 letter to the college president by sociology Associate Professor Cassandra Simon kicked off the down-with-Dixie campaign. It was penned on behalf of herself and the Black Faculty and Staff Association.
From The Crimson White:
[Cassandra] said that the playing of “Yea Alabama!” has deterred her from attending football games and other sporting events in the 22 years that she has been at the University.
As told to the outlet, she tried at first:
“I didn’t realize that this was the fight song for the entire university and all the athletic teams. So, I had attended a couple of basketball games and some gymnastic weeks, but then when I realized that this was for everything, I stopped going to all athletic events.”
Dixie has indeed been deemed problematic — hence, the 2020 renaming of music group Dixie Chicks.
Enlightenment is upon us, and with it comes change. And where woke-worthy awareness is concerned, an American saturation is complete. Even Alabama has caught up with the times:
Will the University of Alabama change its fight song? Per The Crimson White, the initiative boasts mere dozens of supporters. However, that doesn’t spell doom for its mission.
Still, some of the most fervent football fans in the world root for the Crimson Tide. And to suggest any lyrics should be changed…for more than a few die-hards, well, those would be fighting words.
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