Rebel Black Bear
|Rebel, The Black Bear|
|University||University of Mississippi|
|Description||Anthropomorphic Black Bear|
|Related mascot(s)||Colonel Reb|
Rebel, The Black Bear is the official sporting mascot of the Ole Miss Rebels, the collegiate athletic teams of the University of Mississippi. The anthropomorphic black bear replaced Colonel Reb as the official mascot in 2010.
In 2003, Colonel Reb was removed from the sidelines at Ole Miss athletic events as the on-the-field mascot due to its racial connotations as a Confederate soldier or antebellum Southern plantation owner. A contest was held in which fans were invited to design a replacement. The athletic department chose two finalists, Rebel Bruiser and Rowdy Rebel, and invited fans to vote on their favorite. The limited fan response prompted the administration to cancel the poll. Many still supported Colonel Reb as the school mascot.
In 2010, Ole Miss students voted to choose a new mascot. The election did not allow the option of reinstating Colonel Reb as the official mascot of Ole Miss, in spite of sizable popular support. An internet campaign to replace Colonel Reb with the 'Star Wars' character Admiral Ackbar gained a cult following. Admiral Ackbar was a high-ranking commander of the Rebel Alliance in the fictional Star Wars universe. However the students that began the campaign insisted Admiral Ackbar is not their ideal choice for the school's mascot. Instead they intended the character as "the face of a push to start a fresh mascot search at Ole Miss." It is unclear if Lucasfilm, which owns the Admiral Ackbar character, would have authorized Ole Miss to use his image for their mascot or not. The studio's only comment on the matter was a tongue-in-cheek statement, saying, "Lucasfilm is flattered that our Star Wars fans at the University of Mississippi are considering electing Admiral Ackbar as their mascot. The last time we checked in with Admiral Ackbar he was leading the Rebel Alliance Fleet on a critical mission so it will be difficult for him to show up for the games!"
The student-led committee that led the process of choosing a new mascot was formed Monday, 29 March 2010. The committee did not set a definitive time to reveal the new on-field mascot, but tentatively scheduled it for the 2010 football season. The committee established a website to ensure transparency throughout the process.
The field of suggestions was reduced to 11 candidates: Hotty and Toddy, a black bear, a blues musician, a cardinal, a "fan-atic," a horse, a land shark, a lion, the Mojo, a riverboat pilot, and a titan. The committee polled Ole Miss students, faculty, staff, alumni, and season ticket holders about three finalist mascots: Rebel, The Black Bear, based on the legend that Theodore "Teddy Bear" Roosevelt refused to shoot a bound black bear in Mississippi; the Rebel Land Shark; and Hotty Toddy, from a popular cheer. Based on its support throughout the process, including the final poll, the committee selected Rebel, The Black Bear as the new on-field mascot.
The University reclassified the Colonel Reb trademark as historical and still retains ownership of the trademark.
Bears in Mississippi
The state is home for two types of black bear subspecies: the American black bear and the Louisiana black bear. The American black bear (Ursus americanus) occurs in the more northern counties of the state, which is the location of the university. The Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) is found in the southern half of the state. The two subspecies of bears are basically indistinguishable to the naked eye. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks estimates that the bear population in Mississippi has doubled in the past 10 years.
- Dawn Russell (18 June 2003). "Colonel Rebel Gets the Boot". WLBT. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- Robbie Brown (19 September 2010). "Ole Miss Shelves Mascot Fraught With Baggage". New York Times. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- "Ole Miss is Without a Mascot". WLBT. 10 October 2003. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- "Ole Miss students vote for new mascot". Fox Sports. 23 February 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- Larry Hartstein and Ty Tagami (1 March 2010). "Admiral Ackbar for Ole Miss mascot spurs backlash". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- Jeff Greer (25 February 2010). "Star Wars Figure Gains Steam as Ole Miss Mascot". US News and World Report. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- Itzkoff, Dave (February 26, 2010). "College Campaign for ‘Star Wars’ Mascot Is Fully Operational". ArtsBeat. The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
- "Homepage". Ole Miss Mascot Selection Committee. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- Matt Shelley (30 October 2010). "It's not a trap, just a new mascot". The Randolf Letter. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- "Ole Miss Rebel Mascot Concepts" (Press release). Ole Miss Mascot Selection Committee. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
- "Home" (Press release). Ole Miss Mascot Selection Committee. October 14, 2010. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
- "Colonel Reb Merchandise Phaseout Plan" (Press release). University of Mississippi. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.