Date of Award
Master of Arts
In September of 1972, Robert “Gentle Ben” Williams became the first black football player for the University of Mississippi. This study focuses on the formal and informal forms that segregation took place on campus at the University of Mississippi during his tenure. With the introduction of Williams on the Rebels squad, all major Division I football teams achieved a level of at least token integration. An examination of the student body at the school reveals segregated spaces formed informally between white and black students on campus.
By probing the student produced newspapers the minutia of day to day life, along with clear and defined divisions between white and black students lays the groundwork for how informal segregation played out on campus. Unlike previous work done on this era, this thesis explores the individual motivations and methods of anti-integration white students as they operated in a system moving increasingly away from their ideology. Ole Miss football continued to be an exclusionary space for white Mississippi fans to celebrate the south and their “heritage.”
Nathan Robert Smith
Smith, Nathan Robert, "Desegregating the Stands: De facto segregation redrawn through social interaction and sports at the University of Mississippi in the 1970s" (2018). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 16470.