South Carolina isn't the only place grappling with Confederate imagery in recent weeks. A number of schools with Confederate-themed mascots or names are likewise weighing changes in the wake of a church shooting that left nine dead in Charleston, S.C.
Last month, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported a school board in Fort Smith, Ark., unanimously voted in favor of a measure to remove the Rebel mascot and "Dixie" fight song from Southside High School. If the board approves the measure again in a July 27 meeting, the fight song would be abolished beginning this coming school year, while the mascot change would go into effect for the 2016-17 school year.
Former Ole Miss Mascot Colonel Reb
Following the vote, which took place six days after the fatal shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that left the acclaimed pastor and eight parishioners dead, the district posted a statement on its Facebook page explaining the school board's decision:This from My San Antonio:
Demographically, the school district is 11.4 percent black and more than 50 percent non-white, according to data from the 2013-14 school year. At Southside High School itself, 4.5 percent of the student body is black and more than one-third is non-white, according to data from the same school year.Southside isn't the only school forced to grapple with such a decision in recent weeks. According to an analysis from the website Vocativ (h/t the Washington Post), nearly 200 public and charter K-12 schools across the nation "are named either explicitly for prominent Confederates or for places named after prominent Confederates."
One such school in San Diego, Robert E. Lee Elementary School, spurred Calif. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez to send a letter to the district asking for it to change the name, NBCSanDiego.com reported. In the letter, Gonzalez wrote the community "deserves a school named after someone we can all admire. Robert E. Lee is not that person. The district responded to NBCSanDiego.com with a statement that read in part, "We see this as a wonderful opportunity to have a larger community dialogue with students, staff and families about the school name and look at the history and research surrounding Lee in order to make a collectively informed decision about changing the name or retaining it."
Meanwhile, in Duncan, S.C., a group is calling for James F. Byrnes High School to rid itself of its "Rebels" mascot, according to WSPA.com. Rhonda Skillern-Jones, the school board president for the Houston Independent school district, reportedly plans on discussing the possibility of "renaming six campuses named after Confederate loyalists," according to the Houston Chronicle, which schools chief Terry Grier is "strongly considering" recommending. Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro likewise called for community members to band together and support a name change for Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio, according to 1200 News Radio WOAI.
For any school that decides to pursue such a change, a Little Rock, Ark.-based graphic designer has offered to re-design "the mascot or logo of any school or college that uses Confederate imagery" at no cost, according to the Arkansas Times.
Texas high school defends Confederate mascot as coach gets slap for racial remarksStudents and alumni have rallied for a North Texas high school to keep its Rebels mascot days after the Fort Worth Star Telegram obtained records showing school officials reprimanded a softball coach for repeatedly making insensitive remarks about African-Americans.
The flareup over the mascot came after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram obtained an April letter from Richland High School principal Carla Rix in North Richland Hills concluding that softball coach Brenda Jacobson "may have made inappropriate comments to students based on race or skin."
Several players had accused Jacobson of making racial remarks to players since 2014, according to the Star-Telegram: the coach was accused of calling a black player's hair "nappy and nasty," accusing a black player of refusing to a drill "because there is water on the ground and black people don't like water" and saying to one black player that "the sun is more attracted to you because you are black" among other comments.
Jacobson denied the allegations and was been placed on administrative leave for less than one school day during the investigation, the Star-Telegram reported.
Kenzie Wilson, a former Richland High School student, told WFAA that Jacobson directed several comments at her.
"I felt like it was enough and I shouldn't be treated like that anymore," Wilson told the news station.
Rev. Kyev Tatum of the Fort Worth Southern Christian Leadership Conference had asked officials with Richland High School and Birdville Independent School District to change names of the school's mascots from the Rebels, Dixie Belles and Johnny Rebel, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The request comes amid a renewed national debate about the public display of Confederate iconography and imagery following a racially-motivated shooting at a historic black church in Charleston.
"These symbols are having a negative impact on children of color from Haltom City to North Richland Hills," Tatum said in a news release. "Whether it's the Rebels mascot to the Dixie Belles dance team to Johnny the Rebel on campus, it is time for the Confederacy to come down."
At least 3,600 people have signed an online petition to keep the mascot names, according to a Facebook group called Save our Richland Rebels.
"Richland High School...has a rich history and we want to keep it that way! We cannot learn from history if we erase it," the group's page reads.
Dozens of protesters rallied Sunday afternoon in support of the names, CBS DFW reported. At least one Confederate battle flag was visible during the rally.
And of course, New Texas textbooks downplay slavery in the Civil War