Rebel, the Black Bear, is the mascot of the Ole Miss Rebels, having replaced Colonel Reb as the official mascot in 2010. In 2003, Colonel Reb was removed from the sidelines at Ole Miss athletic events as the on-the-field mascot after facing criticism from some groups that the character was offensive and racially insensitive.
Designed in 1936, the Colonel served as the official mascot from 1979 until 2003. Several theories exist as to who originally designed Colonel Reb. Perhaps first published in the 1936-37 Ole Miss yearbook or making his debut in The Rebel humor magazine founded by a group known as the “Rebel Club” founded in 1937.
University of Mississippi historian David Sansing has noted that Blind Jim (Ivy) may have been the model for Colonel Rebel. Ivy, blinded as a teenager, made his way to Oxford in 1896 and became a peanut vendor. As an ardent fan for all of Ole Miss athletic teams, Blind Jim became a campus fixture for the next 60 years. In 1936, area sport writers voted and the name “Rebels” was formally approved. The earliest and widely recognized version of the “modern” Colonel appeared on the 1946-47 Ole Miss yearbook
The student committee that was charged with choosing a new mascot was formed on March 29, 2010. The three finalists were: the Black Bear, based on the legend that Theodore “Teddy Bear” Roosevelt refused to shoot a bound black bear in Mississippi; the Rebel Land Shark; and Hotty Toddy, derived from the popular Rebel cheer. After polling student, faculty, staff, alumni and season ticket holders, the committee ultimately selected the Black Bear named “Rebel” as the new on-field mascot for the University of Mississippi athletic teams.
Next week’s “Sign, sign, ….. everywhere a Sign” features the Tigers of LSU. Good luck with your favorite SEC team this Saturday.