Students and alumni at a Richmond, Va. high school are looking to bring back the schools “Rebel Man” Confederate soldier mascot, according to the Washington Post.
Douglas S. Freeman High School stopped using the solder clad in a gray uniform as its mascot at games years ago, but the school’s athletic teams still play as the “Rebels.”
And now, more than 1,200 students and alumni from the school of more than 1,600 students have signed a petition to revive the mascot at athletic events.
“The Rebel Man was never intended to embark racism or start any kind of political controversy, but only to represent our city’s history,” the petition reads. “Over the years, the musket and stars and bars have been revoked from our mascot, so what is the harm in having a silly man run around in gray and blue at football games?”
Alecsys Brown, a senior at Freeman who helped start the petition, said that the mascot reflects the school’s history, and argued that it isn’t racist.
“Since Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, a Southern soldier really represents us as a school,” Brown told the Washington Post. “This Rebel Man does not represent racism or slavery.”
Not all students at the high school are looking to bring the Confederate soldier, and would rather rework the “Rebel” moniker into a new mascot.
“For many current Freeman students and teachers, seeing a Confederate soldier brings up images of violent inequality and their struggle to rebuild a decimated culture,” recent Freeman graduate Charlie Bonner told the Post. “We cannot lose sight of the real issue at hand: creating a school environment that is inclusive of all the students that walk its halls.”
Al Ciarochi, an assistant superintendent for Henrico County schools, said in a statement to the Post that there aren’t any plans to bring back the “Rebel Man.”
This petition comes one month after students at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. removed Confederate flags from its campus after demands from students.