Auburn Fraternity Cancels Old South Parade
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) _ An Auburn University fraternity said Wednesday it was canceling its Old South parade, a 77-year tradition condemned by some students as a symbol of racism.
Kappa Alpha members celebrate Old South Week each spring, culminating with a parade where members dress in Civil War costumes and their dates in antebellum dresses.
Last year’s parade was met by student protests and had to be rerouted by police to prevent a confrontation.
″Although the parade was never intended as a symbol of racism or intended to condone the institution of slavery, some may misinterpret its meaning,″ Kappa Alpha President Tom Williams said at a news conference.
Williams said the fraternity voted Monday night to discontinue the parade. The fraternity will continue its other Old South activities, he said.
Carmella Davis, former president of the university’s Black Student Union, praised the move.
″Maybe they’ve realized the need for tolerance and diversity, in the world and especially on our campus,″ she said.
Auburn President William Muse said the fraternity’s decision ″sends a very strong message that Auburn is serious about providing a warm and friendly environment for all students, faculty and staff.″
Ken Kelly, executive director of the national Kappa Alpha office, said: ″We’re delighted they made this decision.″
Williams said Kappa Alpha chapters have Old South festivities to ″pay tribute to the era immediately following the Civil War, when a man’s word was his honor and the term ‘Southern gentleman’ was not only known, but lived.″
Members of Kappa Alpha at the University of Alabama said their chapter still plans on holding its parade this spring.