Photo by Timothy Ivy
Photo by Timothy Ivy

College sports are cultural staples in Southern university towns like this one, where they wield huge influence over devoted fan bases. That’s helped lead to a sudden social justice shockwave in recent weeks: College athletes in Mississippi and across the country have harnessed their collective power to call for the removal of Confederate monuments, symbols and honorifics and demand their institutions and communities account for racial inequities.

Stars from the University of Mississippi football team in this North Mississippi town have used their platform to push for the removal of Confederate statues on and off campus and marched alongside their coaches, fellow students and residents for social change. Meanwhile, a star running back at Mississippi State University, Kylin Hill, publicly threatened to quit his team if the Confederate battle emblem wasn’t removed from the state flag that had flown in Mississippi since 1894.

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