Alpha Upsilon History
UM – KA Annual Archive
A historical look back at the classes straight from the pages of the UM annuals starting in 1900 – when it all began.
KA Motto in MS State Capitol
The proper translation — which by the way has finally made it into the new edition of The Varlet — is “God and the ladies.” The French make the same distinction as we between the “lady” (la dame) and the “woman” (la femme) so if it were “God and the women” it would be “Dieu et les Femmes.”
I saw the motto on the ceiling of the Senate Chamber and was struck by it. This was probably about 1957 because I went as an alternate from Ole Miss to Youth Congress that year.
There was one person I knew who, I thought, might be a resource for finding out why this came to be there: it was Kenneth Toler who was the Dean of the Capitol Press Corps and longtime correspondent in Mississippi for the Memphis Commercial Appeal. He was a KA from LSU and, more importantly, had served as Province Commander for White Province (then composed of Louisiana & Mississippi) in 1940.
I knew him because he — at least his family — was in my Church and he had daughters that were just older and younger than I.
So I went to see him.
“Mr Toler; I was in the Capitol and saw in the Senate ceiling the KA Motto, ‘Dieu et les Dames.’ Have you ever seen that?”
He smiled. “Oh yes, I know it’s there!”
“Why is it there? In 1903 there could not have been that many KA’s around here in Mississippi since the chapter at Millsaps did not start till 1893
and the one at Ole Miss in 1900.”
“Well,” he said, “It’s like this: Mike Conner [Note from RBW: Mike Conner was a KA from Ole Miss and the only man who served two terms as No I in the history of the chapter] was Governor and the Capitol was being renovated [this means it was the early 1930’s]; a group of us were walking around looking at the work going on and we were in the building. We were in the Senate and someone looked up and saw that half circle area in the back dome and said ‘Something ought to be written in that semi-circle.’ I looked at Mike Conner and said ‘You know what would be just perfect up there? Dieu et les Dames.’ He smiled and nodded and then said ‘He’s right; let’s put Dieu et les Dames on the ceiling of the Senate.’ And so it was done and so it has remained.”