Georgia NAACP leaders want a South Georgia high school to remove the nickname Rebels from its teams, to the dismay of many residents.
State NAACP president Francys Johnson released a statement earlier this week demanding Effingham County High School stop using the nickname Rebels because of the word’s connection with the Confederacy during the Civil War. He and supporters also want the school near Savannah to remove any other symbols that emerged during that era and are deemed by some as racially offensive.
“It’s time for the Confederate flag and the glorification of rebel culture that fought to maintain slavery and Jim Crow as an economic and social order to surrender. If we want closure on a 150-year-old chapter in American history, we must unite under the American flag as true patriots,” said Johnson, who suggested the school rename its teams “Patriots.”
Johnson said students also run the field with a large Confederate flag as the band plays Dixie.
Some area residents say the nickname, flag and other symbols reflect pride in their Southern heritage and should not be considered racist. A petition on Change.org to keep the nickname has more than 7,000 supporters.
Both sides debated the matter at a school board meeting Tuesday. Board members said they will consider the arguments and make a decision later, according to news reports.
Civil rights leaders and others have pushed for removing symbols of the Confederacy from government properties and schools after Dylann Roof, 21, was charged with the murders of nine African-Americans attending a Bible study at their Charleston, S.C., church in June. Several images of Roof holding a Confederate flag emerged after the shootings.
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