Letter to the editor: Ed Meek’s mistake deserves to be contextualized

Posted on Sep 26 2018 - 5:50am by Dickie Scruggs

To the Editor,

Standing alone, the Confederate monument situated prominently at the entrance to the Ole Miss campus could reasonably be taken as the glorification of those who fought to preserve slavery. Similarly, a law school named, until recently, for L.Q.C. Lamar and a dormitory named for James K. Vardaman could be viewed as a ratification of racism. After all, Lamar was a drafter of Mississippi’s Ordinance of Secession and an erstwhile opponent of black voting rights, although he later ameliorated his views and became a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Vardaman, however, was an unapologetically racist governor in the early 20th century.

Because Vardaman had unrepentantly dedicated the entirety of his political life to keeping black Mississippians in a state of illiterate servility, his name is set to be removed from the building. But instead of removing Lamar’s name and the monument of the Confederate soldier, the chancellor — with broad biracial support — elected to “contextualize” both edifices to place them in historical and educational perspective.

Last week Ed Meek, a man of otherwise extraordinary accomplishment and generosity — in recognition of which the School of Journalism bears his name — posted a photographs on social media of two young black women, strongly implying that they were prostitutes plying their trade on the town square. Instead, they were two coeds merely wearing the attire of their time.

The chancellor and many others immediately condemned the racial tenor of the posting, and Meek promptly removed the post and publicly apologized to the two coeds. The School of Journalism faculty then asked Meek to request the removal of his name from the building, and Meek dutifully complied.

Those of us who know Ed Meek know that he is neither a racist nor a misogynist. The body of his life’s work contains nothing that would reasonably indicate a racial or misogynistic bent. Indeed, my first encounter with Meek was when he asked my help for an African-American church that he was financially assisting. Meek’s errant posting was the product of late-septuagenarian ignorance of today’s student attire rather than a racial animus.

No less than the Confederate soldier and L.Q.C. Lamar, Ed Meek’s mistake deserves to be contextualized with the many good things he’s done for our community and university, not least of which have been the millions he earned and then donated to make the School of Journalism the best in the South.


Dickie Scruggs