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Neo-Confederate

Ole Miss Shows How To Remove Confederate Symbolism

The University of Mississippi colloquially referred to as “Ole Miss” has a complicated history around race relations. The school nickname is the “Rebels, ” and the old school mascot was a slender southern gentleman that resemble a plantation owner. Ole Miss made national news in the 1960’s when a riot broke out after James Meredith was accepted. Most recently a noose and Confederate flag were placed around the neck of his statue.

At the same time, Ole Miss has stopped the flying of Confederate flags, playing of “Dixie,” and replaced the southern gentleman mascot with a black bear. Ole Miss is showing how to make forward racial progress in a very sensitive racial environment. The process is slow, and many in Mississippi are fighting for their Confederate symbols, but the university presses on. Their method is moving the ball forward without causing a violent backlash.

History of Ole Miss Rebel Mascot and Race

The University of Mississippi was founded in 1848. In the school’s charter, the purpose of the school was to educate the white race. The school’s nickname is Ole Miss, which is also what slaves called the master’s wife. The Civil War broke out in 1861, and the student body did not want the citizens of Mississippi to fight without them. The entire class of 150 men formed Company A of the 11th Mississippi regiment. This troop fought with the army of Northern Virginia and was in some of the most famous battles in the eastern theater. The most famous battle was their last. Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg resulted in the annihilation of the troop. This advance was the furthest the Confederacy got into Union territory. The troop was forever known as the University Greys .

The Ole Miss sports teams had no official name and had been known by many names including the Oxfords, the Mighty Mississippians, and the Southerners. A poll of Mississippi sports writers picked the name “Rebels” in 1936. The mascot “Colonel Reb’ was made after that. Colonel Reb is also an award given to the most distinguished man of campus every year. The female equivalent is “Miss Ole Miss. These traditions started in 1940.

Some say the inspiration for the Ole Miss mascot was a blind peanut vendor named James Ivy. Ivy, known around Ole Miss as “Blind Jim.” He was a fixture at football games for sixty years. An on-the-job accident blinded Jim as a teenager. He found work at Ole Miss selling peanuts after the incident. He was known to scream the loudest at the games and is quoted as saying “He never saw Ole Miss lose a game.” The university honored him with a tombstone and the marching band spelling Jim during a halftime in 1964. [7] The university has never officially connected Blind Jim to the old Mascot. Also, the mascot is white and Jim Ivy was black.

The band first started playing the song “Dixie” in 1948 for the centennial anniversary of the school.[1] The same year the Dixiecrat political party was established. The party was created in response to the executive order to end segregation in the military. The Dixiecrats were officially Democrats, but did not support integration. They were mainly from the South and fought to stop civil rights leaders. They also encouraged the use of Confederate symbols and flew the Confederate battle flag at their national conventions.

In 1962, James Meredith applied and was accepted to the University of Mississippi. However, when the registrar found out about his race, his acceptance was revoked. Meredith was able to sue citing the recent Brown vs. Board case, and a federal order reinstated his admission. When he got to the registrar to sign up for classes the Governor blocked his entrance. A second court order found the Governor in contempt. US Marshals escorted Meredith in the building to register for class.

Once word got out that Meredith had completed registration a violent mob formed on campus. A riot broke out that took 30,000 Federal troops to squelch. The riot left two people dead and three hundred injured. Today there are bullet holes in the student union building from this riot. One of the events that led to the riot were fiery speeches about southern heritage and pride.

The 1970’s were a fascinating time at Ole Miss. In 1975 the first “Colonel Reb” award was given to a black man, Ben Williams. Williams would go on to the NFL after being Ole Miss’s first black football player. The first depiction of Colonel Reb on field or court was in 1979. The mascot would not only perform at Ole Miss games but NBA games as well.

The Colonel Reb mascot has always hurt recruiting at the University of Mississippi. The first attempt to remove the icon happened in 1997. A group of students formed to support Colonel Rebel. The effort led to Ole Miss keeping the mascot. Ole Miss has not won a SEC Championship in football since 1963. Ole Miss has also never won a men’s basketball regular season title.

In 2003, the Associated Student Body Judicial Council decided to retire the Colonel Reb logo. There was a contest to pick a new mascot and a poll for students and faculty to choose a new mascot. The contest and poll got little participation. The school received 2,400 responses from 40,000 eligible to vote. [15] The school was without an official mascot for seven years.

The same year the “Colonel Reb Foundation” (CRF) was formed. In the About Us section of the website, they claim the removal of the mascot was a unilateral decision by the chancellor and athletic director. The student body and faculty did not get a say in the change. Now many Colonel Reb supporters wear a “Colonel Reb is my mascot” sticker on game-days. CRF also propagated the story of Blind Jim to explain the mascot is not racist. However, having to change Blind Jim’s skin color to white and the school not confirming the story is in itself racist.

In 2010, the students, alumni, fans, and faculty chose the Black Bear as the official mascot. It alludes to Ole Miss’s greatest Alumni William Faulkner. Faulkner comprised a short story named “The Bear.” Also, Mississippi has an endangered Black Bear population. The new mascot will raise awareness on the issues of rebuilding the endangered population. Children that go to the game love the bear according to most reports.

Ole Miss Bear

After the reelection of Barack Obama in 2012, a group of 400 students assembled in front of the student union in protest. The crowd lit signs on fire, yelled racial slurs, and two people were arrested. Many have referred to this incident as the “Ole Miss Riot,” however the school has denied it was a riot.

In 2014, Graeme Harris defaced the statue of James Meredith. He placed a noose and the old Georgia state flag that depicted the Confederate flag on the statue. The incident got national attention, and Eric Holder denounced the action. In 2015 Graeme Harris was charged later that year by federal authorities. Harris was a former Ole Miss student.

Plaques were placed on building built by slaves in 2017. The school recognizes its racist history and is making concrete steps to acknowledge it. They also removed the name of a white supremacist governor from a building on campus.

On September 18, 2018, the student body president announced there will be an upcoming vote for a new mascot of a Landshark. The Chancellor of the school Dr. Vitter says the Landshark does not threaten the “Rebels” nickname. The Landsharks originates from defensive football players putting the hand on the forehead after a big play. The Landshark gesture was turned into a mascot that lost to the Bear in the 2003 vote. The Chancellor says the Ole Miss teams will always be referred to as the “Rebels”. The new mascot was announced on October 6, 2017 and will first appear in 2018. The design of the mascot is currently underdevelopment.

How is Ole Miss an example

Ole Miss is working to make concrete steps for racial reconciliation in spite of a complicated history on race. There is racial backlash on campus. However, they never stop working toward making a more inclusive campus. Many other schools and municipalities will go through a similar struggle.

One of the best aspects of this reconciliation is the Col Reb Foundation (CRF). The CRF is providing a constructive, non-violent outlet for people to voice their opinion on the changing of the mascot. Some people will have a deep emotional connection to the old mascot. Transitioning for these people will be difficult and having a support group will prevent these people from acting out.

Ole Miss will never be able to stop individual students from doing despicable things. However, they do support the investigations and convictions are made. There is work on campus to move people past the events. Also, forward racial progress is not stopped by isolated racial incidents.

Sources

  1. ”For Ole Miss Sports “Dixie” is dead by A. Ganucheau http://www.mississippitoday.org
  2. ”Controversy Over Mascots at Ole Miss” by R. Brown http://www.nytimes.com
  3. Did University of MS students really riot over election results by. J. Kim http://www.newsfeed.time.com
  4. Former Ole Miss Student Charged with Placing Noose on. J Meredith Statue by M. Muskal http://www.latimes.com
  5. Meet Blind Jim Ivy by E. Smith http://www.newsolemiss.edu
  6. Ole Miss Post Signs to Acknowledge Building Built by Slave Labor by Z. Blay http://www.huffingtonpost.com
  7. Oxford Olden Days: Blind Jim Ivy, Honorary Dean of Freshman by J. Mayfield http://www.hottytoddy.com
  8. The University Greys http://www.hottytoddy.com
  9. Integrating Ole Miss: A transformative Deadly Riot by D. Elliot http://www.npr.org
  10. Riots of the Desegregation of Ole Miss http://www.history.com
  11. Ole Miss will be recognizing the campus was built by slaves http://www.college.usatoday.com
  12. Ole Miss should acknowledge its use of slave labor by A. Coon http://www.thedmonline.com
  13. Our Shared Racist Tradition by T. Abram http://www.thedmoonline.com
  14. Rebel Black Bear Selected as the New On-Field Mascot for Ole Miss Rebels http://www.mascot.olemiss.edu
  15. Ole Miss without a mascot http://www.msnewsnow.com
  16. “About Us” http://www.colonelreb.org
  17. Ole Miss to vote on Landshark as new Mascot http://www.usatoday.com
  18. The Ole Miss Rebels are changing their mascot again, this time from the Black Bear to a Landshark by J. Kirk http://www.sbnation.com
  19. Ole Miss names new mascot: Landsharks by D. Royer http://www.wreg.com

Background of UNLV Rebels

Many of the people in this blog work in academia in the United States. Many of these schools have Confederate mascots or Confederate statues. Here are a few examples of schools with Confederate mascots and how they handled them. I will also include my personal opinion on how they handled the situation.

University of Las Vegas Rebels

““New-Unlv-Logo-L.E.-Baskow_1_t1000””
The current mascot of the UNLV Rebels is “Hey Reb” pictured above. The UNLV’s official stance is the mascot is not connected to the Old South and has not been since the 1970’s after students protested. The UNLV website has the following quote on the name “Rebel”:

”In the 1960’s especially, it [Rebels] symbolized those who rejected convention, tradition, racism…Most of all, in southern Nevada it stood for those who had opposed northern domination in the state legislature and unwanted dependency upon Reno”

““beauregard-D65010_9_12A””

The original mascot of the UNLV was the wolf Beauregard clad in a Confederate uniform. Originally, UNLV was called Nevada Southern. The reason the school chose a Confederate mascot was Nevada Southern started as a branch the University of Nevada Reno. Nevada Southern had to declare independence from UNR. They saw themselves as modern day rebels and chose a Confederate motif for their school. To contrast the UNR Wolf Pack, Nevada chose the cartoon wolf in Confederate uniform winking and smirking. The UNLV official website contends that the mascot was not meant to offend, but be a playful jab at the larger school.

The Confederate motif did not stop at sports. The Nevada Southern student government called itself “The Confederate Students of Nevada Southern.” The largest school social event was the “Confederate Cotillion, ” and the school paper was called “Rebel Yell.”

Students began to protest the Confederate motif in the 1970’s. Student athletes that refused to wear the wolf logo led the protests. The students were allowed to vote on the wolf logo and the name “Rebel”in 1971. The students chose to get rid of the wolf but keep the name rebel. The wolf was officially dropped in 1975. In the 1970’s, the school transitioned between the UNLV Sun logo and a colonial soldier logo both pictured below.

In 1983 UNLV, transitioned to its modern day trailblazer. The original logo is below. After a few years, the mascot was named “Hey Reb!”. Over the years the logo has changed, but it always had a gray hat and long mustache.

Many people have been protested recently against “Hey Reb!”. In 2015 two hundred students protested the name. The Charleston killings sparked the protest. Senator Harry Reid also encouraged UNLV to change the name. There was even an internet campaign to replace “Hey Reb!” with Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars Rebel Alliance.

To UNLV’s credit, it is one of the most diverse campuses. A 2015 LA Times article claims it has around 50% minority enrollment. According to the same article all but one member of the undergraduate Black Student Organization supported the mascot. Most of the minorities polled in a recent survey admitted the mascot looked like a Confederate Soldier.

Historically the UNLV was not segregated, and a 1962 Rebel Yell article condemned the University of Mississippi for not integrating. Bill Casey, a black man, played quarterback for the UNLV rebel in 1968. The 1968 team also had the Confederate battle flag on the helmet. Casey said he did not experience any racism on that team.

Nevada’s Civil War and Civil Rights History

Nevada entered the Union in 1864. Of course, it supported the North which was the only way it could gain entry. Lincoln waved the population requirement to ensure there would be enough congressional votes to pass the thirteenth amendment.

Many of Nevada’s original settlers were from the South. There was always fear that Southern sympathizers would try to overthrow Union installation. The Knights of the Golden Circle, a later faction of the KKK, were very active in the area. However, a strong Union troop presence squelched any serious resistance. The part of Nevada that holds Las Vegas was part of Arizona at the time. The Arizona Territory sided with the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Las Vegas has a fraught racial history, and Nevada earned the name “Mississippi of the West.” A 1954 Ebony magazine article claimed the segregation there was as bad as any place in the Deep South. All black people had to stay in the slum of West Las Vegas. There is even a story of a black woman being sent to jail simply because there was nowhere else for her to stay. There were reform efforts but those that supported gambling fought against black people. However, blacks continued to fight and desegregated Casinos in the Moulin Rouge Agreement in 1960.

Justification of the name “Rebels”

Another justification is that the basketball team is known colloquially as the “Runnin’ Rebels.” In the 1980’s the team was dominant in their division, and they were known nationwide as “Runnin’ Rebels.” To change the name would break the basketball history. Also, another name would not have the alliteration and ring.

Personal opinion on if the Mascot should change

The UNLV mascot should be changed to something that can’t be mistaken for Confederate. Even though the official school statement says the mascot is a pathfinder, depictions of his head with only a gray hat would lead a person to believe the mascot is a Confederate soldier. A change as simple as changing the hat to the other school color of crimson and the name to HeyJeb! would be enough to stop any confusion.

Nevada has no official Confederate history. Nevada was part of the Union in the war. The Southern sympathizers in the state were jailed or executed. There is no one from the state they are honoring with the name Rebels.

Given the stereotype or perception that Las Vegas is a racist place, the University must work diligently to fight this misconception. Ultimately, qualified candidates from all minority backgrounds will be turned off by the mascot. It would also make more sense and be more historically accurate to honor the Union troops that fought in the Civil War or some other aspect of Nevada history everyone could celebrate. Ultimately, UNLV and the state of Nevada is bigger than a mascot.

By claiming the mascot is not a Confederate, with the name HeyReb and a gray hat, they are doing the minorities at the school the worst disservice. Some of the most severe psychological trauma happens a person is told what he sees, thinks, and feels is not real. To say that the people that created that mascot did not have it planned the entire time to portray him as a Confederate is silly. The creators of the mascot knew full well that if the mascot only had the hat, he could be seen as a Confederate. It doesn’t matter if the depiction of the entire mascot has him in a red, western-style coat. Most depictions have the mascot in a gray hat with the word Rebel underneath. The insult to black people’s intelligence is doubled when supporters act like the mascot and symbols could not easily be changed.

If the mascot does not change, school officials should expect black and minority students to not support the team unless they are playing and not buy merchandise. I have heard many times in my life that black students have less school pride or patriotism. Situations like the UNLV Rebels, makes black people feel disenfranchised. Once a person feels disenfranchised, they will act out or isolate themselves.

Return to Series

Sources
UNLV Rebels

  • Why are the UNLV sports teams represented by a Confederate rebel https://lasvegassun.com
  • Hey Reb! And “Rebels Nickname https://www.unlv.edu
  • At UNLV, A North-South divide over Rebel Mascot by N.Duara http://www.latimes.com
  • A brief history of our mascot http://www.unlvfreepress.com
  • The Curious Case of UNLV’s Not Racist Mascot http://www.deadspin.com
  • “Justice is Slow but Sure” by Q. Taylor Nevada Law Journal
  • Has UNLV distanced itself enough from Confederate past? http://www.lasvegassun.com
  • UNLV President says Rebel nickname and mascot should stay by I. Whitaker http://www.lasvegassun.com
  • Why are the UNLV Sports Teams represented by a Confederate mascot http://www.lasvegassun.com
  • What’s in a name: UNLV report on Rebel nickname yields interesting tidbits by I. Whitaker http://www.lasvegassun.com
  • UNLV Rebel Mascot Report Nov 2015 by Rainer Spencer Ph.D.
  • Nevada http://www.nps.gov
  • How the Confederacy claimed Southern Nevada during the Civil War http://www.reviewjournal.com
  • ”Mississippi of the West” in 1954 Magazine’s scathing article turned heads in Las Vegas http://www.lasvegassun.com
  • Civil Rights Act http://www.knpr.com
  • Black Rebel Philosophy and Analysis 


    Basic Philosophy
    Andrew Duncomb is a Confederate flag supporter from Seminole, Oklahoma. His support for the Confederate flag comes from his belief that the Confederate flag is not racist. He points to the fact the Northern border states also had slavery. Therefore, slavery did not cause the war. Also, many slave ships ported and disembarked from northern ports. The American flag has as much blood on it as any other flag. 

    He also points to all of the reasons to fly the Confederate flag. Many people want to honor their ancestors that died in the war. Others want to support and affiliate themselves with Southern culture. The flag can be flown out of heritage not hate. It can stand for rebel pride. 

    Black Rebel also realizes that there are people who fly the flag to signify racism. He implores his fellow southern heritage supporters to denounce these people. Specifically, he called out a white supremacy march at Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain is the largest Confederate monument in the country. Black Rebel recognized some of his friends went to the white supremacy rally. He assumes they did not have the proper information and if they did, they would not go. 

    Ultimately, Black Rebel wants to influence other black people to see the positive side of the Confederate flag. If more black people can be turned on to the Confederate flag, they can join him in celebrating Southern culture. At the least, the flag would no longer trigger them, and people can begin to come together. Black Rebel reminds us that we are all part of the human race. If we can keep sight of our place in the human race, then we can stop attacking each other and work together in harmony. 

    The media artificially create racial animosity so the elite can keep power. The government no longer follows the Constitution and strips our freedom every day. He specifically points to President Obama’s 2016 Executive Order. The Executive Order requires background checks while purchasing firearms in all establishments including gun shows. To Black Rebel, this is the beginning of tyranny and “When tyranny is law revolution is a must.” Black rebel uses this quote on tyranny frequently. 

    In Black Rebel’s August 2017 YouTube, he made some disturbing claims. He has been to many monument rallies and says that ANTIFA, the group protesting the monuments, instigates violence. According to him the police stand around and make no arrest. He calls on “patriots” to stand up and fight back. He makes clear that he is talking about physical altercations. He wants to “put them out of commission one by one.” He tells Patriots to “cause as much damage as possible in a short time… if some of them have to die so be it. ” He calls right-wingers not willing to go to the rally “cucks”. “Cucks” is short for cuckold, a white man that allows his wife to have sex with black men. It is used to call a person weak. 

    The problems of black people can be traced back to poor personal choice and bad parenting. The black community sets itself up for failure with such poor decision-making. When black people see the issues and don’t conform to the accepted behavior paths, they are ostracized. Because non-conformist are ostracized there is no one around to break negative habit patterns. Black society then descends further and further. Even Black Rebel admits that some people will have a more difficult time overcoming than others. However, self-reliance and independence can be achieved. 

    What Black Rebel has right

    He is right to attempt to use common humanity to bring people together. The flag is only colors and cloth as he said in his earlier videos. If there was a way to make people less triggered by the flag, it could help American advancement. 

    What Black Rebel has wrong

    The Civil War was chiefly about slavery. Some people fought for other reasons. However, the main reason was slavery.

    The idea that states with large slave populations willingly fought for the North needs to be debunked. Delaware only had 1,800 slaves by the time of the Civil War. Most of these slaves lived in one county. Maryland was under martial law in 1861, and Lincoln jailed southern sympathizers in the state. Kentucky initially declared itself neutral in 1861. Confederates invaded Kentucky, and the Union came to attack the Confederacy. The North then occupied the state to prevent another invasion. When Kentucky voted later that year to join the Union, there were Union troops outside the capital. Missouri sent armies to the Union and the Confederacy and had a star on both national flags. So no state with a large slave population supported the North entirely, and they all had internal fighting over slavery.

    Also, South Carolina seceded one month after Lincoln won the election and before he was inaugurated as President. In the Declaration of Immediate Causes, which is the document of South Carolina’s reason for leaving the union they state their constitutional right to own slaves. They asserted their constitutional right to own slaves because Lincoln was from the anti-slavery wing of the Whig party, now called Republicans. The previous Republican presidential candidate supported a national ban on slavery. Therefore, in the Declaration of Immediate Causes, they state their right to own slaves and the rights of all thirteen slave-holding states. 

    Even if all the Civil War history is ignored, the Confederate Battle Flag was flown by the Ku Klux Klan during night raids on black townships. The history of the Ku Klux Klan is well documented, and one blog post can not detail the issue. Other white supremacist groups later adopted the flag. 

    The modern use of the Confederate flag began in 1948 when the Dixiecrat party used the symbol at their national convention. The Dixiecrat political party was chiefly against desegregation and obstruction of the Civil Rights movement. The Confederate flag was added to the flag of the State of Georgia in 1956. The flag was raised over the South Carolina statehouse in 1961 on the centennial of the Civil War. Because of this timeline, many connect the display of the Confederate flag with those opposed to Civil Rights even if the official state documents don’t explicitly say it was done in support of Dixiecrats. 

    Even in spite of all this historical evidence, Black Rebel is allowed to have his own opinion on the Confederate flag. He is also allowed to wear the flag on his body and fly it on his property. However, he or other Southern Pride supporters can’t use the government to push their perspective on other localities. Black Rebel travels to many locations to fight to keep Confederate monuments.

    He also assumes that his friends in the Southern Pride movement that also go to rallies put on by White Supremacist simply don’t realize who is in charge of the rally. The idea his friends go to White Supremacist rallies out of ignorance is naive at best. If he was able to find information on who sponsored the rally, then his friends had access to the same information. Either his friends chose not to look, which means they don’t care to ensure they separate themselves from White Supremacist, or they know and simply are White Supremacist. If there is not a serious effort in the Southern Pride movement to separate themselves from racist, then the movement is racist. 

    Ultimately Black Rebel does not see the difference in Southern culture and Confederate symbolism. Black people will always be triggered by Confederate symbols, at least as a collective. The history is too deep, and the pain is too recent. However, it would be productive to introduce more black people to the rodeo and agricultural communities. Black Rebel has a pervasive background in these fields that traditionally do not have many black members. If he were to drop the Confederate symbols, many black people would be willing to become more involved in those communities if they knew they would see friendly faces. 
    Black Rebel will simply get into hot water with no personal gain by supporting the aggressive tendencies of the Alt-Right movement. The YouTube videos in which he threatens violence even in response to ANTIFA violence should be taken down. If someone commits a crime and they say Black Rebel inspired them, he could be implicated. The videos do not help Black Rebel or the Southern Pride movement. 
    Where is Black Rebel on the Spiral?

    Black Rebel is firmly in the Blue meme. The Neo-Confederate / Southern Pride movement is very similar to the Afrikaner Nationalism that Beck describes in The Crucible. In the crucible, he states the main elements of Afrikaner

    Nationalism:

    1. Common language and religion
    2. Common struggle
    3. Common vision of the future

    The Neo-Confederate movement has all these elements. They also justify their stances by talking about Southern respect and honor. Both the Afrikaner and Southern see themselves as victims of a well-funded Northern aggressor that did not understand their culture. Both have historically been seen as the oppressor of African people. Both people point out how the Northerners chastising them for oppressing Africans are no better. 

    In The Crucible Don Beck also speaks on removing the Afrikaner monument. In the book, Beck talks about how removing the monuments and says “If the Afrikaners feel they have to come together to fight for their language they will unleash a wave of destruction.” Well in 2017 there is a group on the left that could operate on the same standard. Later in that chapter, Beck talks about how it is important for those in the Integral community to facilitate a compromise that could save lives. 

    As a conservative, Black Rebel is not for change first or second order. 

    Return to Series

    Sources

    1. Fact Sheet New Executive Actions Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Streets Safer. 

      www. Obamawhitehouse.archives.gov

    2. Here are Obama’s Executive Actions on Gun Control. http://www.forbes.com
    3. “Delaware” http://www.slavenorth.com
    4. “Maryland in the Civil War: A Volatile Border State Experience” http://www.civilwarmed.org
    5. “Kentucky’s Neutrality During the Civil War” history.ky.gov
    6. The State Historical Society of Missouri Guide to the American Civil War in Missouri http://shsmo.org
    7. “Where the Civil War began” https://www.visitmo.com
    8. Confederate States of America – Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union http://avalon.law.yale.edu

    Black Rebel (Andrew Duncomb)

    Andrew Duncomb supports Confederate flags and monuments. He became nationally known in 2015 when he staged a march against President Obama. He has been at all the recent rallies that support Confederate monuments. See his series below.

    Black Rebel Philosophy and Analysis

    Black Rebel Interview

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