REFUGIO, Texas — They came from far and wide to speak out against the Refugio High School fight song, 'Dixie', at Monday night's meeting of the Refugio ISD School Board.
"You don't know me," said speaker Gerry Wayne Monroe. "You don't want me in your business down here with your little 'Dixie' song."
Monroe called himself an education activist, and he said he decided to come to Refugio from Chicago after hearing about last month's school board vote to continue to allow the high school band to play 'Dixie' at football games.
"I'm an unapologetically black man, and I've watched my people -- for many moons -- get their heads (busted) open while this song was being played," he said.
Matt Manning also traveled to Refugio to speak out against 'Dixie' -- only the drive from Corpus Christi for the Nueces County Assistant District Attorney was quite a bit shorter than Monroe's travels.
Manning had plenty to say though.
"The origin of the song, the substance of the song, the use of the song, the legacy of the song -- those things are all unequivocally divisive and hateful," Manning said. "Therefore retaining the song is a choice to keep hate at this school."
While a handful of people spoke out against the playing of Dixie at football games, no one spoke out in favor of it.
Manning also addressed one of the common defenses of the song at games -- that the school's been doing it for decades.
"How extraordinarily obtuse an idea it is for you to say, 'It's our tradition -- therefore we must retain it," he said. "That is extraordinary. It is beyond reproach. And each and every one of you (school board members) knows it."
Only two school board members voted for banning the playing of the song at a meeting last month. Five members voted to allow it to continue. Jorge Jaso is one of the two votes to ban it.
"I voted to abolish it, because I feel it's a song of oppression, and it's always been a song of oppression in my opinion," Jaso said. "I feel that it's not only a black thing. It's a minority thing."