Our View: Parade cancellation a sign of progress

Our View

In short: Kappa Alpha’s decision to cancel its annual Old South parade is a sign that the University is making progress with race relations.

Heritage and history are very important at the University of Alabama. Statues of football coaches from bygone eras adorn the campus. Buildings are named after prominent people in Alabama’s history. The University is inextricably tied to Alabama’s past.

Unfortunately, that past is not always about football championships and freedom.

Alabama has an infamous record when it comes to race relations. This past can be dealt with in two ways.

The University has been very sensitive about its past when dealing with the history of Foster Auditorium. Respecting the mistakes of the past is a sensitive way to remember.

When the Kappa Alpha fraternity held its annual Old South parade last year, it was, in a sense, honoring the mistakes of the past.

The longtime tradition of honoring the days of rebellion by parading dressed as Confederate soldiers has come to an end, however.

After a controversy last year when the parade stopped in front of a black sorority house, the fraternity decided not to continue the tradition this year.

This decision is a step forward for race relations at the University. Other chapters around the Southeast have taken similar steps when confronted about their insensitivity. Auburn’s chapter of KA cancelled its parade in 1992 after protests, and LSU’s chapter does not wear the full Confederate uniforms, just the hats.

The cancellation of the parade may not fully settle the differences between KA and those who view their parade as disgraceful, but it is a step in the right direction. The history of the Confederacy is important to remember, but it is not something to be flaunted.

When KA utilized the symbolism and appearances of the Confederacy to honor their past, they neglected the feelings of those who disagree with the ideals of the Confederacy. To many, the antebellum South is not a place worth remembering and honoring. It was a place where freedom was an illusion and people were treated as property. While this isn’t the South that KA’s founders experienced, it was certainly a reality.

The entire controversy raises an interesting question: At what point does one person’s celebration become too offensive? While KA has every right in this country to gather and celebrate what they believe to be a good legacy, they are glorifying a part of history that involved a regrettable and atrocious violation of human rights.

We commend KA’s choice to stop the Old South parade. There is no reason to celebrate one’s heritage in a way that offends others. Like the new plaza being built at Foster Auditorium, celebrations of Alabama’s past should balance the love of legacy with the recognition of imperfections.

Editor Amanda Peterson did not participate in this editorial.