Arab schools superintendent says he won’t bring back ‘Dixie’

ARAB, Ala. - On Thursday evening, parents and students showed up at Arab's school board meeting, urging school leaders to bring back the Dixie fight song.

There was a joining of hands and a spiritual pick-me-up for parents and neighbors outside Arab High School.

"It's just acknowledging he's the creator that made the grass grow on the football field," Christian preacher Bo Shedd said.

But these men and women aren't here for a game. They're showing up at Arab's school board meeting to give education leaders a piece of their minds.

"If it isn't broke, don't fix it," Colie Franklin said.

While not an official agenda item, plenty of people showed up to oppose superintendent John Mullins' recent decision to do away with the school band playing the song Dixie at games.

"I truly believe the vast majority of people in this community love Dixie for the right reasons, as a school tradition and anthem of Southern heritage," Arab High School teacher Russ Williams said.

"It is a song that unfortunately has been historically tied to people and events that are divisive," Superintendent Mullins said.

In addition, people at Thursday night's meeting were urging the school board to allow prayer at school and at games.

"It stands as the law of the land and this school board is not the place to overturn supreme court precedent," Arab city schools attorney Clint Maze said.

Nearly a dozen people spoke at Thursday's meeting. Most of them supported bringing back the Dixie fight song. Some even suggesting to the board to let the students vote on bringing Dixie back. Superintendent Mullins says that's not going to happen. As to the prayer issue, the superintendent says the law states Arab schools can't use the PA system to broadcast a prayer to fans. But he says any students who want to pray once they get to the game, go for it.

"If the students broke out reciting the Lord's prayer, that is not impermissible by law," Mullins said.

Mullins, who grew up in Mississippi, says time will heal all wounds, and that retiring the song is best for the kids.

Superintendent Mullins says the school's band director hasn't decided on a new official fight song, but says they're considering composing a fight song of their own to play at games.