Defending Southwest Utah Heritage Coalition (DSUHC) is staging a “Keep Dixie” rally
UPDATE: 01/01/2021 4:30 p.m. DSUHC has pulled out but other groups are still planning on protesting and rallying at Tuacahn
ST. GEORGE - Monday morning will bring with it a bustle of activity in Washington County. As the gubernatorial inauguration for Spencer Cox is set for 10 a.m., numerous activist groups are readying to gather, rally or protest.
Defending Southwest Utah Heritage Coalition (DSUHC) is staging a “Keep Dixie” rally where attendees are encouraged to come to line the road on the sidewalks by the roundabout at the entrance of Tuacahn Drive in Ivins. The organizers of this rally want attendees to be positive to encourage all the legislators who will drive by to see the great support of the name “Dixie”.
The entire community is invited to attend and encouraged to maintain healthy hygiene, of course.
This group’s main effort is in defense of a recent bill sent to the Utah State Senate to delete the word “Dixie” from the name of Dixie State University, a pioneer-built university that has been part of the fabric of St. George since 1911.
Community members are encouraged to bring signs that say #keepDixie or “Keep Dixie” as the group has formulated a hashtag campaign on social media with cash prizes in support of the Dixie name. The community is encouraged to use the hashtag on social media. To join the group and donate to the cause, you can go to www.DSUHC.org
The community, alumni and majority of students and county residents along with most of the legislators and about 23,000 signatures on a change.org petition (cited below) are in favor of keeping Dixie as the name of the university, according to DSUHC organizers. The university has borne the name Dixie for more than 100 years. This is at least the third time this new administration has attempted to remove Dixie from the name, much to the ire of local residents.
Though the university has undergone numerous changes, the new administration of DSU, a few professors and students, and northern legislators want the name changed, again, because in today’s cancel culture environment the word “Dixie” is viewed by some as racially divisive. This effort has been at the forefront of this administration, much to the ire of the community, from one year after the name was changed in 2013. Richard Williams, current president of the university, is a native of Oregon and lived in northern Utah. He came under condemnation from the community in 2015 over the firing of a tenured professor where Williams was accused of using intimidation tactics.
Dixie was the name first given to the Washington County area by Father Escalante in 1776, according to his diary, and was renewed as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived in the area to settle the desert they also chose to call “Dixie” in 1854.
Utah’s Dixie was built by the pioneers who befriended the Paiute tribe, cultivated the land and toiled to build up a city of churches, government and education resources for themselves and visitors to the area from nothing but sand and sagebrush. This continues to be the way of Dixie; welcoming and seriously committed to liberty, the humanitarian spirit and knowledge, according to DSUHC organizers.
The church-owned school underwent changes from being known as the St. George Stake Academy in 1911 to Dixie Normal College in 1916, and then Dixie Junior College in 1923. It was named Dixie to show off the regional heritage of “Utah’s Dixie” in the southern communities of Utah. The community members took over ownership in 1933 and the state took over in 1935. Under the state’s ownership, Dixie Junior College became the “Rebels”, then in 1956 made the confederate soldier its mascot and then in 1960 began flying the Confederate battle flag called the “Southern Cross.” By 1993, Dixie College dropped the battle flag as a school symbol. In 2005 the newly named Dixie State dropped the “rebel” mascot. Among other transformations, the Utah State Legislature named the university Dixie State University in 2013. The school transitioned to a new mascot - the “Trailblazers.”
Historical Sources: Herbert Bolton, Douglas Alder, Dixie State University, Kevin Jenkins of The Spectrum, and The Independent
An additional new petition: