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 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 after facing criticism from some groups that the character was offensive and racially insensitive. 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.
The "Admiral Ackbar" Campaign
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, in spite of sizable popular support. An internet campaign to adopt the Star Wars character Admiral Ackbar as the Ole Miss mascot gained considerable support. However, the students that began the campaign insisted Admiral Ackbar was 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, owners of the Admiral Ackbar character, would have authorized Ole Miss to use his likeness as their mascot. 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 Selection Process
The student committee that was charged with choosing a new mascot was formed on March 29, 2010. The committee did not set a definitive time to reveal a new on-field mascot, but tentatively scheduled it for the 2010 football season. The committee established a website to promote transparency throughout the process shortly thereafter.
The field of suggestions was reduced to eleven candidates: Hotty and Toddy, a black bear, a blues musician, a cardinal, a "fanatic," a horse, a land shark, a lion, the "Mojo," a riverboat pilot, and a titan.
The committee polled University students, faculty, staff, alumni, and season ticket holders about three finalist mascots: 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, derived from the popular Rebel cheer. After months of analyzing responses and feedback, including the final poll, the committee ultimately selected the Black Bear, named "Rebel," as the new on-field mascot.
Bears in Mississippi
The state is home to 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 northwestern counties of the state. 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.
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks biologists currently estimate that 40 to 50 black bears inhabit the state of Mississippi today, but the agency reports that bear sightings have steadily been on the rise, the majority of which have come from counties bordering the Mississippi River and from coastal counties such as Jackson, Harrison, and Stone.
- 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.
- Young, Brad. "Black Bears in Mississippi: Past and Present". Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks. Retrieved April 23, 2016.