Black and gold have been Southern Miss' colors since the beginning, thanks to Florence Burrow Pope who, with her husband Moran, was in the school's first class in 1912. In an oral history recorded by former University President William D. McCain in 1965, Mrs. Pope told of being the senior class sponsor at Carson School during the 1910-11 school year when her classmates were arguing about selection of the class colors.
"On a trip home, I saw great masses of Black-Eyed Susans in the pine forests. I decided to encourage my senior class to gather Black-Eyed Susans to spell out the name of the class on sheets to be displayed during exercises on Class Day. I then suggested black and gold as class colors, and my suggestion was adopted.
One of the teachers at Carson, Miss Edna Burns, then bought black and gold hatbands in Jackson for the two boys in the senior class, Charlie Laird and Moran M. Pope."
On August 4, 1912, Florence Burrow and Moran M. Pope were married, and the next month they entered Mississippi Normal College in its first class. She recalled that Pope "wore his straw hat to Mississippi Normal College, and students laughed at his black and gold hatband."
Soon after school opened, a committee was appointed to make recommendations concerning school colors. Florence was on the committee. "We were charged with selecting colors which no other college in Mississippi had adopted," she said. "Marye Miller suggested that the colors be maroon and gray. I suggested that they be black and gold. The two suggestions were submitted to the student body, and the student body voted to have black and gold as the school colors."
Since that day, mascots, names, customs and the campus have changed, but black and gold have remained the school's colors.