An Ohio high school is getting rid of its Confederate mascot in the wake of a deadly car attack at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend.
Superintendent Steve Thompson said Thursday that Willoughby South High School will drop its “Rebel” mascot — a man dressed in a gray Confederate military outfit — but keep the name. Thompson said he made the decision to support the school’s diverse student body.
“The Civil War was part of the history of the American story and that’s not going anywhere, but how we view it sometimes changes,” Thompson said. “We thought it was the right thing to do.”
The school is in Willoughby, 20 miles northeast of Cleveland. About 20 percent of its students are from minority families.
The sports teams still will be called the South High Rebels and will continue wearing gray and blue as their school colors. The school will create a committee do decide how to rebrand the term “Rebel.”
“Rebel can mean a lot of things. George Washington was a rebel,” Thompson said.
The Rebel has represented the school since it was founded in 1959. The move to replace it is the latest in a series of steps the school has taken to phase out Confederate iconography.
The Rebel mascot used to carry a Confederate flag and tout a gun, but school officials dropped both items from the mascot’s depiction after it stirred controversy. Four years ago, the school banned Confederate flags on campus. The school eventually will ban students from wearing school clothes depicting the Rebel mascot, Thompson said.