The University of Mississippi has come through some of the most heated civil rights battles in U.S. history, but, with the guidance of Cole, assistant provost and assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs; associate professor of mathematics, the institution continues to move forward. Ole Miss is changing with the times — even though the lingering sentiment of a turbulent history and legacy of civil rights with the 1962 entry of James Meredith, the university’s first black student, seems to be forever present.
Today, Cole, who entered the school in 1970 and left after being expelled for fighting against racism on the campus, is proud of his decision to return to the campus, receive the degree he deserved and make right the historic wrongs for the future of a new generation.
“I don’t know what really made me come back, but I knew it was right,” said Cole. Some years ago, the university overturned his case and gave him the opportunity to pursue his advanced degree as well as become a senior level administrator and role model for a new time.
With his leadership and a focus on diversity and inclusion, the Ole Miss campus moves forward with a new sense of inclusion— and a bridge between new and old realities of race.
Cole is a testimony that moving past a legacy of hatred means creating new history — understanding that the history of the past, is, in fact, intended for the past.
Today, on the campus, there are living tributes to a shared heritage on the campus, which includes the Confederate Cemetery of Oxford behind Tad Smith Coliseum and the Lyceum (building shown above), built in 1848 , and known not just as the university’s administration building, but also as the building where civil rights protests surrounding James Meredith’s admission was fought, and where a statue in Meredith’s honor was placed.
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