UTA Professor Remembers His Role in Changing School's Confederate Theme

If you visit the University of Texas at Arlington, you'll see a banner that reads "Welcome to Maverick Country," but it wasn't always that way.

"They were called the Rebels," recalled political science professor Allan Saxe, who started teaching there in 1965. "They had a Confederate flag flying from the student center, and that's who they were."

It was during the Civil Rights Movement. Saxe was a 25-year-old, wild-haired professor with progressive ideas about changing the school's Confederate theme.

"And I started preaching against it, because they were so adamant, especially the African-American students," explained Saxe. "But it wasn't a lark with them. It was something that offended them so deeply."

Saxe remembers the day he walked by the student center.

"And I'm impulsive, and I see the Confederate flag out there," Saxe recalled, with a gleam in his eye.

He said he pulled the flag down while some students protected him. He remembers there being others, "who were ready to just put me up on the flag pole."

"Those were different days then," Saxe recalled.

Saxe, now older and less rebellious, questions if the protests now are based in the same convictions as those in the 1960s.

"Do they know the history?" Saxe asked. "Do they know anything about it besides mass hysteria?"

He also wonders where to draw the line for change.

"Are we going to change the name of every county in Texas that's named after a Civil War general or Civil War veteran?" Saxe said.

When Saxe helped spark change on UTA's campus a half-century ago, he said there were marches and protests and debates, but no violence. Classrooms named after Confederate generals were changed, and the Confederate flag came down for good in June 1968.

"That was the amazing thing that happened. It worked," Saxe said. "You would hope that kind of thing could happen today."

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