South Georgia high school rallies to keep Rebel theme. Is this the right battle?

Despite the contention by parents and community members that the most important element in education is the classroom, it’s the extraneous stuff that galvanizes people into action.

he NAACP wants Effingham High School in south Georgia to stop using the Rebel as its team name. (Change.org)

The NAACP wants Effingham County High School to stop calling itself the Rebels. (Change.org)

An example is the escalating hoopla over school bans on Confederate flags and symbols.

An estimated 500 people crowded a school board meeting in Springfield, Ga., Tuesday to protest a NAACP campaign to get Effingham County High School to stop calling its sports teams the Rebels and playing “Dixie” at games.

If the topic were improving the school’s math performance — I checked. It could use improving. — would even 50 people have shown up? Would 15?

While Effingham County High stopped officially using a Confederate soldier caricature long ago, the symbol apparently still crops up. The local NAACP is asking the school board to abandon the Rebel theme altogether.

As the AJC reported:

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.

The Charleston County, S.C., School District just prohibited students from displaying the flag emblem on campus. The county’s student code of conduct for this year states, “in light of a year marred with racially divisive and tragic events” students cannot wear “clothing, jewelry or other apparel bearing the image of the Confederate flag.”

Citing their authority to prohibit clothing or symbols that could be disruptive, schools have outlawed many images, including swastikas, Ku Klux Klan emblems, Malcolm X symbols and Confederate flags. And even the American flag.

As the LA Times reported:

Last March, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a free-speech appeal from several Northern California high school students who were told they could not wear a shirt emblazoned with an American flag on the Cinco de Mayo holiday. The court’s action had the effect of upholding school officials who said they acted because they feared an outbreak of fighting between white and Mexican American students.

The NAACP request to Effingham High has sparked a petition to preserve the Rebels.

The petition, which has already drawn more than 7,000 signatures, says: “NAACP is coming into effingham county to try and remove the rebels from the high school. This is our county. We don’t associate being a rebel as a symbol of racism. For us is is about being proud to come from effingham county high school. Our tradition… Everyone who has signed this I want to remind what this is about. This is about school pride and tradition. We are not here to cause problems. We are not here to support racism or hate. This petition does not associate it’s self with anything of the sort.”

(Please note I did not correct the grammatical errors in the petition.)

Is this issue worth it?

Does it matter whether Effingham County High students run onto the field as Rebels or Patriots?

Shouldn’t it matter more whether they run into the future with the academic skills to win at a UGA or Tech? 

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Reader Comments 0

82 comments
BCW1
BCW1

Good for them...Go Rebels!!!

StingerSplash
StingerSplash

The school system has chosen to keep the name Rebels. 

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Google "NAACP and Black Crime" and there are about four articles on the subject.  NAACP and Illiteracy or NAACP and Illegitimacy?  Same thing.


Now Google "NAACP and Confederacy" and there are page after page after page of articles.


Which topic would have the most impact on blacks, that is, if "black lives really mattered" to the NAACP?  The fact remains that black crime, black illegitimacy, black illiteracy, or any of the other black indicators of cultural dysfunction doesn't interest the NAACP.  Hard to gin up financial donors when the solution is for blacks to take responsibility.


Now the Confederacy, ahhhh, that plays on emotions and gets Jesse and Al some camera time.

BCW1
BCW1

Enough is enough...this is racism going the other way. Just because you don't like something does not give you the right to change it. I have never owned one and you have never been one so get over it!!!!!

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I like this quote on the true spirit of egalitarianism:

"Never look down on someone unless you are helping them up."

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Some may be interested in these reflections of mine to a poster on another blog this evening:

"I would leave the Stone Mountain sculpture just as it is.  I will be so glad when the people of our nation and world can see wrong without always feeling the need to be judges of that wrong.  I think it was Gen. Grant who said that he felt compassion for General Lee and his soldiers for they had demonstrated much valor in a cause, however, that was probably the worst cause for which noble men had ever given their lives. (perpetuating slavery).  Gen. Grant knew how to "see" or how to "observe" without undue judgment, just as President Lincoln had that capacity when Lincoln said, "Both sides pray to the same God to help their cause, but that God had his own plan far beyond the vision of either side."  (I of course have paraphrased the words of both Grant and Lincoln.)  And, Lincoln had "Dixie" played after he had led the Union to victory as a gesture of acceptance of the states of the Confederacy back into the Union without malice, instead of giving a victory speech at the White House and in order to heal the nation's wounds.  But, the martyrdom of Lincoln's life was the greatest healing of our nation at that particular time in the days right after the Civil War.

All that above was to preface saying that the images of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis on Stone Mountain should remain as a reminder to us all that people are neither all good nor all evil and that these men were noble in their efforts for an ignoble cause - simply a true fact of history from which the present can learn.  But, we should see them in that light rather than trying to impress that the North had done the South wrong, which would be shallow, stereotypical thinking.

If I could design anything I wanted on Stone Mountain from its inception I would have had a linear history of our nation up there.  Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Lincoln, FDR, MLK Jr."

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

How about we find a way to cut the school's funding?   Maybe that'll get them to focus their efforts elsewhere, like student achievement, and improving their grammar skills!

TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

Black Americans have their heroes. White Americans (Italians, Irish, German, et alia) have theirs. The NAACP would do well to try to respect other's feelings on this. I would content that you are making things worse by your attitude on these basically inconsequential issues.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Many years ago, organizations rightfully fought for tangible things, such as voting rights and civil rights.

Today, it's all about "feelings". Freaking ridiculous.

Can't force or legislate feelings or morals.

These organizations are reaching for straws today and trying to tell a majority of people how they're supposed to feel. When, in reality, the "cause of the day" has no effect on their life. They didn't care about it until some bozo, Al Sharpton type, said this is now a problem. The mindless, all of a sudden act offended by such trivial matters.

Making mountains out of molehills.

DrProudBlackMan
DrProudBlackMan

"They cling to their guns and religion."


Add symbols of hate to that...

DrProudBlackMan
DrProudBlackMan

@HotDawg 


Why do you ASSUme that I even like rap? The arrogance and bigotry of YOU PEOPLE is astounding. Btw last time I checked YOU PEOPLE'S spawn are the largest purchasers of that garbage.

HotDawg
HotDawg

@DrProudBlackMan @HotDawg 

No. I didn't assume YOU like rap. Therefore the question mark.

Learn to read.

Point is, rap is largely another symbol of hate, created by blacks. 

And many cling to it. 

Your ignorance and bigotry is astounding. 


DrProudBlackMan
DrProudBlackMan

@MiltonMan 


How so? Because I rightly pointed out the arrogance and bigotry of ANONYMOUS excrement talkers such as YOURSELF? zzz 

HotDawg
HotDawg

Like most black, rap crap.

Racist, misogynist, homophobic, violence and crime glorifying rap crap.

You cling to that symbol of hate?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Something is going on here that is much deeper than the "Rebel" mascot name or the song "Dixie."  It is that most of the white people are aligned with the white Southern people and most of the black people are aligned with the black people in their differing perspectives on this issue.


We should never deny the power of the symbol.  Look how we all have a sense of commonality when the American flag flies and a sense of mutual pride.


When I was in high school in south Georgia in the late 1950s, "Dixie" was played at most school assemblies.  It is still being played in this south Georgia community today, with feeling.  However, these symbols divide, they do not heal.  The NAACP spokesman is correct in that the South must start identifying more as a part of the United States of America than of the South.  The Southern people must acknowledge that they were on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of spiritual truth in 1860, in 1960, and today.  We can no longer keep silent about this fact as white Southerners as we have done for over two or three centuries.

Moderate_line
Moderate_line

@MaryElizabethSings

We should never deny the power of the symbol.  Look how we all have a sense of commonality when the American flag flies and a sense of mutual pride.


A symbol of oppression to Native Americans. Also, to many people in Latin American because of interference with their politics. For example, the Mexican War were we took a third of Mexico, the independence of Panama for Columbia and Spanish American War where we took the Philippines and Pareto Rico. 


The Southern people must acknowledge that they were on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of spiritual truth in 1860, in 1960, and today.


Not sure how many people don't acknowledge that slavery and segregation were wrong.



MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Moderate_line 

"Not sure how many people don't acknowledge that slavery and segregation were wrong."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Of course, most people do now say that slavery and segregation were wrong because it is within the acceptable norm to do so NOW and they make no personal waves by doing so.  However, white people of the South would not - for the most part - acknowledge that slavery was wrong during the pre and post Civil War years.  And, I know from personal experience, that most white Southerners would not acknowledge that segregation was wrong during the pre and post Jim Crow years.

Today is no different for most people.  Most people will not stand apart from the crowd, or more specifically from THEIR crowd, and speak spiritual truth in their own times.  The point is that these Southern symbols of division are anachronistic to today's age and they are present like an old dinosaur, hurting black people of the South very much and hurting white people of the south, too, because they are denying what is spiritually true and what must happen to heal old, old wounds.

 

Moderate_line
Moderate_line

@MaryElizabethSings @Moderate_line

Of course, most people do now say that slavery and segregation were wrong because it is within the acceptable norm to do so NOW and they make no personal waves by doing so. 

What does that have to do with the fact that in contemporary society does not accept slavery and segregation as wrong.



Your personal experience differs quite remarkably from mine. I have grown up almost entirely in the desegregated south and have not heard anyone in my generation express such thoughts as you seem to proclaim as truth. Unlike you I do not pronounce generalizations and judgement on others based on my personal experience. Peoples personal experience can differ quite allot and it  takes the summation of those personal experiences to arrive at a truth with my personal experiences being one.


The Byzantines fought civil wars over iconography. I believe what you are doing is just a justification to impose your personal believes what you what call spiritual truths on others thus sparking more conflict. At some point in a liberal democracy we have to learn to be tolerate of people who differ from us in appearance, culture, thoughts etc.   and not to dehumanize people as you do white southerners otherwise we will evolve into something East Germany.








MiltonMan
MiltonMan

@MaryElizabethSings 


Ask the American Native Indian what they think about when they see the American flag flying.  I doubt they have the pride that you mentioned.

bu2
bu2

@MaryElizabethSings 

People divide, not symbols.  Dixie was one of Abe Lincoln's favorite songs and was played at his political rallies.  It was quite popular in the north and with the northern armies as well.  It was probably written by an Ohioan (its disputed).


Southern pride is one of the strengths of the area, not a weakness.  The lack of regional pride is a weakness of the north.  We aren't them and don't want to be like them.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@bu2 

Lincoln had "Dixie" played after the Union's winning the Civil War in order to heal the nation. 

We, today as Southerners, must heal the nation by fully joining the Union. 

Moderate_line
Moderate_line

@MaryElizabethSings @bu2 : People can maintain cultural identification with other groups and still be part of the "Union", hence, Irish-Americans, Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, etc. What you are advocating is what the Turks did to the Armenians and the British did to the French and Indians in Canada and what the Americans did to the Indians. I thought we were way past this forced assimilation and I also thought we recognized diversity as a positive.Can someone not identify with their unique culture and still maintain loyalty to the United States?

Moderate_line
Moderate_line

@MaryElizabethSings @bu2 "Must". You seen pretty keen on telling other people what to do.I have found when you tell people what they "must" do they more than likely will do the opposite even when it is in their best interest unless you have the power to force them and that really does not work out in the long run.


How would you react if I told you what you "must" do?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Moderate_line 

I am neither "dehumanizing" myself nor other white Southerners.  I am asking us all to reach our fullest humanity by releasing ourselves of the shackles that have held this section of the U.S. back since before the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were even written, as well as since the Civil War was won by the Union to sustain the Union.

Again, those white Southerners who are not attempting to release old and divisive Rebel symbols are hurting themselves by limiting themselves, and others by rejection, as well as our Union, itself.  We must, together, strive always to achieve that "more perfect union" which will help our full humanity to bloom.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Moderate_line 

"Can someone not identify with their unique culture and still maintain loyalty to the United States?"

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

That is the way that it should be, but that is not the way it has been, nor is today, with the South, if we are truthful.  The South - as a whole - is still resisting the Union in rather small/petty but significant ways because of the long-lasting resistance it has shown to the Union and because of its history of rebellion against the Union.  Did not Gov. Perry of Texas even propose Texas' seceding from Union within the last two years.  An overused threat from Southern politicians.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Moderate_line 

I think you are overreacting on this choice of words, as if my intent by using "must" had been to "force" others, rather than to "persuade" others to choose the  more positive course - which was actually my intent in using the word, "must."

bu2
bu2

@MaryElizabethSings @Moderate_line 


If you really understood the south, you would know that it is more loyal to the US than many other regions.  This map of military recruits demonstrates it.  The highest rates are in the 3 southern regions.  The most underrepresented region is the northeast.  Texas produces the most recruits by raw numbers.  Georgia is one of the top 3 per capita.


http://www.ijreview.com/2014/07/158892-military-pride-states-boast-highest-enlistment-rates-america/


bu2
bu2

@MaryElizabethSings @Moderate_line 

And the South believes in the most basic American values.  They resist when being told what they should think or can say or can show.  There are no more fundamental American values.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@bu2 

I'm 72, bu2.  I think I understand the South as well as anyone in that I come from a family of Southerners going back for 3 centuries.

There are all types of Southerners.  There are the George Wallaces and the Jimmy Carters.  There are the Sam Nunns and the Lester Maddoxes.  There were Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee.  Not all of these famous Southerners thought like you.  I am one, also, who does not think like you and I am a native Southerner and a proud American.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@bu2 

The South is also overall one of the least literate sections of the nation and the Northeast is one of the most literate sections of the nation.  Yet, the South has produced literary greatness.  (See my above just posted comments to you.)  Life is full of paradoxes.



straker
straker

Will the NAACP also launch a campaign to stop the nationwide epidemic of Black on Black murders?


Or, is going after high school children the best they can do.  

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

This is absolutely NOT the right battle.


The Georgia chapter of the NAACP should first focus on 
1) reducing the rate of black-on-black crime, especially murder

2) reducing the catastrophic rate (around 74%?) of black kids currently being born to single parent families.

3) improving the academic performance of African-American students to narrow the extremely well-documented racial academic achievement gap in this country, and

4) increasing financial literacy and financial planning skills in the African-American community to narrow the extremely well-documented racial wealth gap in this country.


Making ANY progress on ANY of the items above would be MORE helpful to African-Americans than getting a high school to change their mascot name.


class80olddog
class80olddog

"Shouldn’t it matter more whether they run into the future with the academic skills to win at a UGA or Tech? "

Yes, it should, but no one wants to address THOSE issues!!!

bu2
bu2

@MaureenDowney @class80olddog 

Well this is about censorship.  Not the rebel mascot, but trying to ban a song.  That is like trying to ban Huck Finn because the "N" word is used.  And yes, black groups have banned Huck Finn in places.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@class80olddog You're right - we will never improve schools if the only issues that motivate people to get involved are these sideshows that have zero to do with classroom quality. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

Back to the topic - I have very fond memories from my childhood of the song "Dixie" especially the part about "early on one frosty morning".

That song does not specifically talk about race or slavery, yet it has been declared "forbidden".  The people defending the school mascot 'Rebels" may never have associated that name with the Confederacy or slavery or anything else - it is just the name.  That may be why they are so upset about the attack on their school name from people who are "offended".  (By the way, I am offended by rap music, but I have never asked for it to be banned.)

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@class80olddog But wouldn't you like to have a button to blow up the speakers in a car riding around with the windows down and blaring rap "music?"  Be truthful!

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady @class80olddog Sure I would - but I don't hold a press conference to express my displeasure - or take matters into my own hand.  The most I could do is file a noise violation complaint.

bu2
bu2

@class80olddog 


And the American Patriots were called "rebels" by the loyalists.

class80olddog
class80olddog

On the list of takeover schools - percentage of students missing 15% or more days -

Douglass HS - 42.5%

Mays HS - 28%

Sylvan Hills MS -18.3%

Dunbar ES - 10.9%

Towns ES - 11.3%

Compare to:

Lin ES - 3.7%

Walton HS (Cobb) - 6.7%

Houston, do you think there might be a correlation?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@class80olddog Yes, but possibly not causation.  The same attitudes and family characteristics may lead to both.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady @class80olddog You are partially right - the same attitudes Do lead to both  but it is a pretty clearly defined "method of failure" when kids are not in school - they cannot learn that day's lesson, so they must somehow "make up" the study and work that was done in that class.  In a lot of cases, this is never done.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Sort of off-topic, but: thank you gapeach101 for the attendance data link.

Some interesting stats - percentage of students missing 15% or more days

APS- 13.5%

Cherokee - 5.7%

Clayton - 10.1%

Cobb - 7.3%

Decatur - 4.1%

DeKalb - 12.2%

Dalton - 6.7%

Fannin - 8.9%

See any interesting correlations?  It would be even more interesting to correlate individual schools and their academic performance vs. their absenteeism rate.