letter to the editor

Statues are not the only inappropriate cultural relics on the UNC System university campuses.  NC State University also has a not so Silent Sam issue; in fact it is enshrined in song:

The NCSU alma mater song starts with "Where the winds of Dixie softly blow o'er the fields of Caroline..."

Dixie was the Rebel fight song, reputedly played at Fort Sumter when the Civil War started, and remains a code word for misplaced Confederate ideals.

The Dixie wording specifically prompted the NCSU Faculty Senate to pass a resolution three years ago that requested that the alma mater song should be revised because it contradicts our NCSU values for diversity and inclusion, which was ignored.

Furthermore, we just had two African American women keynote speakers at the last NCSU December graduation—Christine Mann Darden, a leader of sonic boom research at NASA, and the student speaker, Lindsay McMillian—as well.  Commencement was then closed with the "Grains of Time" choir singing about the winds of Dixie.  One of our undergrads said they were teaching the Alma Mater at orientation as well.

The bitter irony and hypocrisy here are obvious.  We have entire programs of equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion at NC State, yet we infer the opposite in our revealed actions, and ignore many explicit requests to change clearly offensive language.

Dixie remains an iconic emblem of the Confederacy, which NCSU apparently teaches in the Alma Mater to incoming freshman, and then closes with at commencement for all outgoing graduates.

These grains of racism should be eliminated from our alma mater song and our NCSU lexicon.  We should teach what we believe, and practice what we teach.

Fred Cubbage is a professor of forestry and environmental resources.