Michigan school district discussing use of Rebel mascot

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WYOMING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan school district is considering whether to change its longtime mascot because of its association with the Confederacy.

The Godfrey-Lee Public School District this month held the first of two planned forums to discuss the use of its Rebel mascot.

Board of Education President Eric Mockerman told WOOD-TV that whether or not to do away with the Confederate soldier caricature is no easy choice.

"Because no matter the decision that we make, someone's potentially having their feelings hurt, having strong feelings about it," he added. "Any way that we move."

The Grand Rapids Press reported that issue is part of a growing conversation in the state about the use of Native American and Confederate mascots, nicknames, logos and fight songs in schools. Some students and parents at Godfrey-Lee Middle & High School say they are uncomfortable with the tie to the Confederacy. Others think there is nothing wrong with the mascot and say people are being overly sensitive or are too worried about political correctness.

The mascot drew greater controversy in 2006 when a darker-skinned caricature was painted by alum Arturo Araujo. He said he empathizes with people who are offended by his version of the mascot. He believes it could better represent his diverse community.

"There's a lot of love for teaching and learning at this school," Araujo told WOOD-TV. "There's a lot of teamwork going on at this school, so it's surprising that at this point we're even talking about this."

A second forum is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 17. The board hopes to make a decision in February.


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