Sam Hanna Jr.

Collis Temple knows a thing or two about discrimination and suppression.

When Temple enrolled at LSU in 1971 and became the first black basketball player ever for the LSU Tigers, he was exposed to racism at its worst. The National Guard reportedly was called upon to protect him on the campus.

One can only imagine what Temple thought and felt at the time. Only he can possibly explain it.

It seems surreal today to even contemplate the obstacles, or discrimination, that black Americans faced during integration, but that’s the way it was back then. It’s not that way today in spite of efforts by the so-called mainstream media and others to make us believe otherwise.

So it was somewhat surprising to read over the weekend about Temple, a successful businessman who is now a member of the LSU Board of Supervisors, calling on the university to explore terminating its sponsorship relationship with Rouses Markets, a Louisiana-based grocery store chain that’s been in business for more than 60 years. Rouses Markets operates 64 stores in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The company employs more than 7,000 people.

Rouses and LSU struck a deal in 2019 for Rouses to be named the official and exclusive supermarket of LSU Athletics. As part of the deal, Rouses got premium signage and advertising in Tiger Stadium and the other sports venues on campus. There are other perks, too, including tickets to all sporting events, that every corporate sponsor of LSU Athletics gets for agreeing to pay top dollar to be named an official and exclusive sponsor.

It’s not clear how much money it cost Rouses to be the official supermarket for LSU Athletics, but trust me when I tell you it’s not cheap. Nothing at LSU is cheap.

According to The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, Temple took a few moments at last week’s board of supervisors meeting to express his disapproval of the news that Donald Rouse Sr., a co-owner of Rouses Markets who is now retired, had attended the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C. to protest the Congress certifying the results of the November presidential election. Evidence of Rouse’s attendance at the rally had surfaced on social media.

In response to complaints on social media about his appearance at the rally, Rouse issued a statement saying he had left the rally before some protesters breached security at the U.S. Capitol and damaged public property there. Rouse pointed out he had played no role in the violent aspect of the rally, and of course, he said he didn’t approve of it.

Rouse’s public distancing from the rally apparently wasn’t sufficient for Temple. He feels LSU should terminate its relationship with Rouses Markets because one of the owners of the company was a supporter of President Donald Trump. In other words, Temple obviously believes a company’s owner, or co-owner, should suppress his or her own First Amendment rights if the company owner, or co-owner, wishes to do business with LSU, a publicly funded institution of higher learning.

Of course, First Amendment rights do apply to speech that comports with a leftist view of the world. Conservatives, on the other hand, are expected to pay their taxes and keep their mouths shut.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone if LSU gives Rouses Markets the heave-ho. After all, just last year the LSU Board of Supervisors ordered the university to remove Gen. Troy H. Middleton’s name from the library on the LSU campus. Middleton, by the way, was a highly decorated veteran of World War I and World War II, who later became president of LSU before chairing a widely regarded biracial commission to work toward integrating state government in Louisiana.

What sin, you might ask, did Middleton commit to prompt the LSU Board of Supervisors to publicly disgrace the man’s honor? As LSU president he wrote a letter to an official at the University of Texas in the early 1960s explaining how LSU segregated its white and black students. Which was what Louisiana law required at the time.

To his credit, Gov. John Bel Edwards, whose appointees control the LSU Board of Supervisors, hasn’t said a word about Temple’s meltdown over Donald Rouse Sr. Perhaps Edwards finally recognizes LSU has already gone too far in its attempts to rid the university of its storied past. Perhaps Edwards recognizes, too, that LSU is dangerously close to completely alienating a fan base it cannot afford to lose — the taxpayers who pay the bills at LSU.

If the LSU Board of Supervisors has any sense whatsoever, it will ignore Temple’s admonition.

Sam Hanna Jr. can be reached by phone at 318-805-8158 or e-mail at samhannajr@samhannajr.com.

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