ARAB, Ala. (AP) — A rural Alabama high school is ending its tradition of playing "Dixie" at football games.
John Mullins, superintendent of city schools in Arab, said he made the decision to quit playing the song at Arab (AY-rab) High School, but not because of any "external pressure."
Leaders in the educational system and the school board have talked for months about dropping the song, he said, and local news outlets reported in June that the longtime band director was retiring.
"While I fully understand the difficulty of changing a tradition, the song has negative connotations that contradict our school district's core values of unity, integrity, and relationships," Mullins said in a statement reported by WHNT-TV.
School bands throughout the South used to play "Dixie," but the practice ended as the region got further away from legalized racial segregation.
The Arab High School Band has played "Dixie" after touchdowns for decades.
Students and staff at the school will vote on a new fight song after this football season. In the meantime, the band will play an instrumental soul song that's popular among marching bands, "The Horse."
Census statistics show the town of about 8,200 people, located in northeastern Alabama, is more than 96 percent white.