Refugio ISD held a school board meeting Monday with an extra item on the agenda: Should the band be able to continue playing the fight song or should the fight song be discontinued?
After a letter to the editor of the Victoria Advocate, eyebrows were raised and controversy over the song “Dixie” arose for Refugio.
Ronald O. Green, the song’s opposer, wrote in his letter he and his brother opposed the song back in 1967, but he was told they would no longer be able to play sports for the Bobcats if they pressed the issue any further. The letter explains Green’s concerns over the fight song being racist and continuing to “overlook a race of people.”
Refugio is not the first school to have a fight song questioned.
The University of Mississippi’s band played the very same song from 1948 until 2016, when the school was banned from continuing to play it.
The song has been associated with racism after being coined the unofficial anthem of the confederacy. It was composed in 1859 as a minstrel show — a show in which white actors wore blackface and performed for entertainment.
“Dixie” was also used in “The Birth of a Nation,” a 1915 movie that is said to have resparked the Ku Klux Klan.
The Refugio school board, led by president Andy Rocha and vice-president Kelley Walker, voted on Monday night to keep “Dixie” as the fight song. The vote was 5-2.
Refugio ISD released a statement on the decision on Wednesday:
“I just think that it’s time for the song to be retired,” Frank Hosey said as he voiced his concern against the song.
Though there are many opposers, there are also many supporters.
Refugio resident Patsy Williams expressed her support for the fight song by saying she doesn’t see anything wrong with “Dixie.”
“Always we were ready to hear that song,” she said. “It just motivated us to have more spirit.”
A debate arose within Refugio as they entered the 2019 playoffs. The well-decorated, championship team has a high representation of black and latino athletes suiting up every week. Some parents have even threatened to bench their kids in the upcoming regional matchup.
Refugio head coach Jason Herring says the team’s goal is to win the state championship and has not commented further on the controversy.
Refugio plays Shiner at Converse Judson Stadium on Friday in the Region IV-2A, Division I semifinal game. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.