Every so often debate rages anew over the appropriateness of team mascots.
After a lot of pressure the University of Mississippi, Ole’ Miss, went from Col Reb:
to Rebel Bear, in honor of William Faulkner, after seven years without any mascot:
Currently Congress has a bill before it to force the Washington Redskins to change their identity
based on the fact that under trademark legislation passed in 1946, a corporate “mark” can’t be disparaging of a people or group.
I remember calls for the Atlanta Braves and/or Cleveland Indians and/or the Florida Seminoles and/or, yes, the Redskins to change their names. I’ve always agreed with those calls but thought that the “Redskins” nickname was the most offensive of them all.
And that was before I knew the backstory.
Michael Tomasky wrote a piece for The Daily Beast that, assuming it is true and I have no reason to assume it isn’t, sheds a whole new light on the issue and makes it worse.
Because, you see, the owner of the predecessor to the Redskins, the Boston Braves, was a giant racist who
proposed to his wife against the backdrop of a group of black performers he’d hired to croon “Carry Me Back to Ol’ Virginny” as he popped the question
who was also the last owner to draft an African-American player in 1961 and only did so because he wanted to build the stadium that would become RFK Stadium on Department of Interior land which gave the federal government the ability to force the team to abide by federal non-discrimination policies.
When Marshall died in 1969 he left the bulk of his estate to set up a foundation in his name. Good for him, right? Not so fast:
He attached, however, one firm condition: that the foundation, operating out of Washington, D.C., should not direct a single dollar toward “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.”
The current owner of the Redskins, Dan Snyder apparently has zero interest in changing the name. So he leaves in place George Preston Marshall’s ugliness and legacy for no good reason other than tradition and continuity. It is a disgrace.
And why, you ask, did Marshall change the “Braves” to the “Redskins?” Supposedly he wanted to honor a coach whose mother might have been part Sioux.