History was made over the weekend when the University of Mississippi crowned its first African-American homecoming queen.
Courtney Pearson, a senior studying secondary English education at the university, was elated about her victory.
“I am still in shock, but I am definitely very excited,” she told the Daily Mail. “It couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Pearson beat her competitor Ashleigh Davis for the title 1,477 votes to 1,387. Her victory serves as a symbol for Ole Miss, a university that did not admit African-American students until 50 years ago.
“We do have a typical tradition in that, that person is usually Greek, and that person is usually white,” Pearson told WMC-TV. “But I think we’re kind of going away from that and really trying to look at what that person has done for the university, on what they’ve been involved in, what they’re grades are looking like, things like that.”
In 2010, Ole Miss made news when the university decided to change its controversial mascot Colonel Reb, a goateed Southern man, to the Rebel Black Bear. The school band also stopped playing a fight song with the lyrics, “The South will rise again.”
Pearson understands the significance of her win and hopes it will mean just as much for others.
“I feel like it’s an inspiration for others to be like, there’s nothing that can hold me back, not my race, not my Greekness, or my non-Greekness – whatever it is that I want to do, I can do it,” Pearson said.
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