“Blind Jim” Ivy: The man who inspired the Ole Miss “Colonel Reb” Mascot


Footage of Blind Jim at an Ole Miss football game, 1947 below:

Blind Jim at an Ole Miss football game, 1947 from UM Media Documentary Projects on Vimeo.

 

 

Noted Ole Miss historian David Sansing has stated that “Blind Jim [Ivy] may have been the model for Colonel Rebel.” Sansing cites “the late Frank Everett” as the sole basis for this conclusion.  “Blind Jim” Ivy was a campus fixture until his death in 1955, seven years before the school was integrated in 1962. He was affectionately known as “the dean of freshmen” for his many pep talks to incoming Ole Miss freshmen classes. Jim Ivy became an integral part of the University of Mississippi in 1896.  Born in 1870 as the son of former slave Matilda Ivy, he moved from Alabama to Mississippi in 1890. Ivy was blinded in his early teens when coal tar paint got into his eyes while painting theTallahatchie River Bridge. Ivy became a peanut vendor in Oxford and was considered the university’s mascot for many years. Ivy attended most Ole Miss athletic events and was fond of saying, “I’ve never seen Ole Miss lose.” 

File:BlindJim.jpg

 

Ivy was very much a part of the Ole Miss scene in 1936 when the editor of theschool newspaper proposed a contest to produce a new nickname for Ole Miss teams, then known as The Flood. “The Rebels” was the choice of 18 out of 21 sports writers.  Rebels also won the contest sponsored by the Mississippian, with Ole Massas—a term used by slaves to refer to their masters—finishing a close second,  and the university’s sports teams have since been known as the Rebels. Two years later, Colonel Rebel appeared for the first time as an illustration in the university yearbook.  This illustration was perhaps drawn by the art editor for the yearbook that year, Billy Hix.  Hix often drew his depictions of the Colonel as a planter in an antebellum plantation setting.  It is also possible that Colonel Rebel was originally created by the Rebel Club a student group founded in 1937 shortly after the University had adopted the “Rebels” name and was responsible for the publication of The Rebelmagazine which featured an image of the Colonel on its masthead that is identical to the one appearing on the 1937 Ole Miss yearbook.  Others may have also had a hand in revising and modifying the image of Colonel Rebel in those early years, such as campus bookstore owner Carl Coers and famous New Orleans cartoonistJohn Churchill Chase.  The image appearing on the 1947 Ole Miss yearbook is a result of this process and is the one that continues to be used to this day

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonel_Reb

http://www.cracked.com/funny-8418-colonel-reb/

 

 

Article below is from www.saveolemiss.com

 

“Blind Jim” Ivy

 

Noted University of Mississippi historian Dr. David G. Sansing has long pointed out that the model for the original Colonel Rebel emblem may have been a black man. 

“Blind Jim” Ivy was a campus fixture until his death in 1955. Ivy became an integral part of the University of Mississippi in 1896. Born in 1870 as the son of African slave Matilda Ivy, he moved from Alabama to Mississippi in 1890.  He was blinded in his early teens when coal tar paint got into his eyes while painting theTallahatchie River bridge. He became a peanut vendor in Oxford and was considered the university’s “Dean of Freshmen” and the “mascot” for many years.

 

Ivy attended most Ole Miss athletic events and was fond of saying, “I’ve never seen Ole Miss lose.”  He was very much a part of the Ole Miss scene in 1936 when the editor of the school newspaper proposed a contest to produce a new nickname for Ole Miss teams, then known as the Flood. Rebels was the choice of 18 out of 21 sports writers and the university’s sports teams have forever been known as the Rebels. Two years later, Colonel Rebel appeared for the first time as an illustration in the university yearbook, “The Ole Miss.”

 

According to Sansing, “If you look at the photo of “Blind Jim” in the three-piece suit, with the hat, there’s a striking resemblance. The original Colonel Rebel emblem is a spitting image of “Blind Jim” Ivy, except for white skin.”

 

Colonel Reb on Campus

 

Colonel Reb soon became an honor all over campus.  In the 1940s the tradition of voting for Colonel Reb and Miss Ole Miss were the highest honors students could bestow on their fellow attendees.  Still elected every fall by the student population, many notables of the history of Ole Miss have earned this honor including football stars Kayo Dottley, Archie Manning and Ben Williams, the first black football player at Ole Miss.  (Chucky Mullins was elected Colonel Reb in 1990)

 

It was also during this time that one student each year at Ole Miss dressed in a Confederate uniform and paraded down the sidelines exhorting the Rebel faithful to cheer for their winning team.  Wielding just a microphone and filled with hoopla, the student helped lead the Ole Miss football team to three national championships (1959, 1960 and 1962) and six Southeastern Conference titles (1947, 1954, 1955, 1960, 1962, and 1963).

 

Seeking to professionalize the sideline appearance, the student was exchanged for a trained cheerleader mascot in the form of the original 1937 emblem that was a campus staple on merchandise.  Colonel Reb finally graduated from his 40-year paper history to a living caricature on the field in 1979, and remained there until chancellor Robert Khayat and athletics director Pete Boone removed him in 2003.

 

http://www.saveolemiss.com/


2 thoughts on ““Blind Jim” Ivy: The man who inspired the Ole Miss “Colonel Reb” Mascot

  • November 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm
    Permalink

    So….if Col. Reb was based off of a black man, why is Col. Reb white?

    Reply
    • November 28, 2013 at 9:00 pm
      Permalink

      He hasn’t always been white. Several black students have been elected as Colonel Rebel through the years, a very high honor at Ole Miss for many years.

      Reply

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