(WMC-TV) - A historic statue on the Ole Miss campus was desecrated Sunday; officials are left searching for the people responsible for the offensive prank.
The students on the campus in Oxford, Miss. are not holding back their opinions about the recent racially insensitive incident.
James Meredith will forever go down in history as the man who helped open the doors of higher education at the University of Mississippi. A move so monumental that the university chose to immortalize him with a statue.
"He blazed a path that I think needs to stay lit," said one student.
In 1962, Meredith became the first African-American student admitted to the then segregated University of Mississippi. Now decades later he says he is not surprised by the hate crime against the statue in his honor.
He said the noose around the neck of the statue and the old Georgia flag with a Confederate Battle Flag only confirmed what he already knew.
"That Mississippi has a moral character breakdown. Until we solve that problem and until we start training up our children the way they should go like the Bible says it will remain the same," said Meredith. "I promised God I was not going to do two things: I wasn't going to lie anymore and I wasn't going to judge anymore."
Meredith has a message for current Ole Miss students going to what he considers the best school in America.
"That puts a tremendous responsibility on them to get it right to do the right thing," he said.
Campus officials say the men were heard shouting racial slurs during the Sunday morning incident.
"I think it absolutely terrible what they did. I think they should pay for it," added university freshman John Choat.
Many Ole Miss students were not shocked by the incident.
"To be honest we haven't come as far as we think we've come," said Bryston Tucker.
Some say racially charged incidents like this continue to stain the university's image.
"That's kind of a slap in the face and that hurts," added another student.
Meanwhile Chancellor Dan Jones said, "Their ideas have no place here, and our response will be an even greater commitment to promoting the values that are engraved on the statue: Courage, Knowledge, Opportunity, and Perseverance."
The Ole Miss Alumni Association has offered a $25,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the two individuals responsible for this incident.
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