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Journalism school namesake apologises for racist post

JACKSON, Miss. – The namesake of the University of Mississippi journalism school is to apologise for his Facebook post that critics called racist.

Ed Meek posted photos Wednesday of the two black women in short dresses, which he said were taken in the town square in Oxford, “at 2 o’clock at night after a ballgame.”

“A 3 percent decline in enrollment is nothing compared to what we see as this goes on … and the value of property will decline as the taxes,” Meek wrote. “We share in the responsibility for protecting the values that we hold dear are those that are made of Oxford and Ole Miss is nationally known.”

Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter called on Meek to apologize.

“While we all want to ensure a safe, family-friendly environment at Oxford university, I must condemn the tone and content of Ed Meek’s post,” Vitter wrote on Facebook. “The pictures in his post suggest that there is an unjustified racial undertone that is very offensive.”

Meek then deleted his own post and wrote a new late Wednesday: “I apologize for those offended by my post. My intent was to indicate we have a problem in The Forest and on the Oxford Square.”

The Grove on the Ole Miss campus is a perfect place for an extended tailgate parties for football games.

The university Black Student Union, said Meek’s original post implies African-American women may cause the value of real estate drops. “His statement clearly has racial overtones that must be addressed,” the group said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Meek led the Ole Miss public relations for 37 years, starting in 1964. A petition trying to remove the name of the journalism school , which is named for him, after he and his wife donated $5.3 million in 2009.

The university already has decades to deal with the own history of difficult race relations. White mobs rioting on the campus in the fall of 1962 when James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at Ole Miss; military troops were called in and Meredith was escorted by federal marshals.

Mississippi’s population is about 38 percent black, and black students will increase from 12.7 percent of the Ole Miss entry in 2017. The current figures are not yet available.

In an attempt to promote racial diversity in the last few years, the school renamed a street that is called Southern Drive and installed plaques to provide historical background, such as a Southern soldier statue that stood for generations in a prominent place on the campus

In July 2017, the university announced that it would put up signs to acknowledge that some buildings on campus were built with slave labor. The university has also announced that it would remove the name of James K. Vardaman of a building. Vardaman, a white supremacist, was Mississippi governor from 1904 to 1908 and a united states senator from 1913 to 1919.

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This story is corrected to show Ed Meek posted the photos and comments on Facebook on Wednesday, not on Saturday.

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