Student Well-Being

Numerous Schools Facing Pressure to Change Confederate-Themed Imagery

By Bryan Toporek — September 25, 2015 1 min read
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Earlier this year, I wrote about a handful of schools weighing changes to Confederate-themed imagery in the wake of the shooting in Charleston, S.C., in which nine African-Americans were killed. In this week’s issue of Education Week, I took a deeper dive into the issue, as it’s only spread further over the past few months, with strong stances emerging on both sides of the issue.

For an example, take Jack C. Hays High School in Buda, Texas. Over the summer, the Hays Consolidated Independent school district decided to retire Hays High School’s “Dixie” fight song, citing its potential to divide or offend students and the community. At a board meeting in August, however, a number of local citizens protested the change.

Since then, the district has backtracked slightly. According to Julie Chang of the Austin American-Statesman, Superintendent Michael McKie announced at a recent board meeting that students will be able to pick the school’s fight song, with “Dixie” remaining a possibility. For the time being, however, the school has reverted to its original fight song, “On Wisconsin.”

According to the Hays Free Press, the voting process should be completed by Nov. 13. Between now and then, a committee of students will establish criteria for the new fight song, and students will then nominate songs that meet those criteria. By Oct.30, according to the paper, a student-led selection committee will whittle down the list of songs eligible to be voted upon.

Hays isn’t the only school facing resistance while considering such changes. In Fort Smith, Ark., the decision to retire the “Dixie” fight song and “Rebels” mascot from Southside High School led to a lawsuit against the district, alleging a violation of open meeting laws. In Georgia, meanwhile, a campaign to change Effingham County High School’s “Rebels” mascot has resulted in death threats being lobbied against members of the Effingham chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, according to the group.

For more on this hot-button topic, check out the story in this week’s issue of Education Week.

Photo: Hurley High School football players Justin Stevens, left, and Josh Mullins, holding flag, lead teammates onto the field at the “Meet The Rebels” event, kicking off the season at the school in southwestern Virginia. (Michael Shroyer/USA Today Sports)

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.