OXFORD, Miss. (WMC) - An Ole Miss senior is making history as the university’s first African-American female Rhodes Scholar. She also pushed for a confederate monument on campus to be relocated, and that process took a big step forward Friday.
Arielle Hudson is an education major at Ole Miss and in late November was chosen as one of 32 candidates from across the US to participate in the prestigious global program at the University of Oxford in the UK. Hudson, a Tunica native, said she hopes her selection sends a message to younger students in the Mississippi Delta.
“I think I’m pretty much still in shock,” said Hudson.
Hudson said she’s still stunned that she’s a Rhodes Scholar. Hudson becomes Ole Miss’ 27th Rhodes Scholar and the university’s first African-American woman to receive the honor.
“To be the first African-American woman, it shows how much progress is being made not only in Mississippi but also within our world,” she said.
Hudson is a second-generation Ole Miss student, studying secondary English Education. She’ll head to the University of Oxford for two years to earn dual master’s degrees and then return to Mississippi to teach for five years, as part of her undergraduate scholarship requirement.
“Coming back to Mississippi is deep in my heart, and I specifically want to go back and teach in the Mississippi Delta area because that’s my home,” she said, “And I know my experiences there.”
Hudson is one of the Ole Miss students who led the call for a century-old Confederate monument by the Lyceum to be moved to a cemetery, also on campus.
“I was one of the people giving tours to prospective African-American students and their families,” Hudson said, “And so when you’re giving a tour on the campus and you’re having to walk by that statue, that’s a very hard story to sell or even tell someone as to why it’s still there.”
Hudson says she hopes to see African-American enrollment at Ole Miss increase, and she discussed her involvement in the relocation of the monument in her Rhodes Scholar application.
“I think it’s time for us to start getting rid of those symbols that impede the success of African-American students,” she said, “And that prevent a lot of African American students and their families from even wanting to visit the campus.”
There’s not been a date set yet for that vote by the IHL board to authorize the relocation of the statue. The university couldn’t submit the request until they received state approval, which was granted Friday.
Arielle Hudson graduates from Ole Miss in May, and she’ll head over to the UK to begin her studies in Oxford in fall 2020.