Once upon a time, the minstrel song “Dixie” was the unofficial anthem of the Confederate States of America. Soldiers in gray marched to it. It was played at Jefferson Davis’ inauguration in 1861.
It was also the University of Mississippi’s game day theme song until 2016 when the Ole Miss Athletic Department made the decision to remove the song from the marching band’s repertoire.
Now it looks like the term will take another hit as Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and the Pelicans basketball team, will remove it from her brewery.
Dixie Beer, which has been around since 1907, is changing its name.
“[O]ur nation and community are currently engaged in critical conversations about racism and systemic social issues that have caused immeasurable pain and oppression of our black and brown communities,” Benson wrote in a statement posted to the Dixie Beer website Friday. “As New Orleans, and our country, continue to evolve we find it necessary to reflect on the role our brewery can play in making our home more united, strong and resilient for future generations.”
Benson bought majority ownership in the brewery in 2017, 12 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city and much of the Gulf Coast. The Dixie Beer brewery was among the casualties. She and her late husband, Tom, completed the purchase after research showed “restoring Dixie Beer to New Orleans would be a sign of our city’s rebirth and a powerful testament to the resilience of our people,” Benson wrote.
After a $30 million investment, the brewery was reopened last year. “This location was selected to create jobs in an area of New Orleans that desperately needs investment and to serve as a catalyst for economic growth in New Orleans East,” she wrote.
The new name for the iconic brand has yet to be selected, but the New Orleans community will be part of the decision.
“We look forward to listening, learning and making sure that our brewery fulfills its promise of uniting, inspiring and leading all in our community,” Benson wrote.
Renaming Dixie 🍻🍻🍻
Here’s what to know about the oldest brewery in New Orleans … which you’ll soon be seeing under some brand-new lettering (click 🔗 in video for more details) ⤵
What would you choose for the brewery’s new title? pic.twitter.com/l2xR4VdIvI
— NOLA.com (@NOLAnews) June 26, 2020
The origins of the term Dixie are often disputed, but the likeliest explanation is that it came from $10 bills printed in New Orleans in the 1800s. The bills used the French word for the number 10, “Dix,” and were known as “dixies.”
Among other “dixies” recently removed from Southern iconography are Florida’s Dixie Highway renamed Harriet Tubman Highway, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede dinner show at her amusement park renamed Dolly Parton’s Stampede, and the Dixie Chicks dropping the term from their name. They’re now just The Chicks.