ANDERSON TWP., Ohio (FOX19) - A rally was held in Anderson Friday evening to support changing the ‘Redskins’ mascot of Anderson High School.
Debate over the issue has spanned decades, with the Forest Hills School District Board of Education voting several times on the mascot’s removal.
Hannah Bird graduated from Anderson High School in 2019. She’s used to walking around campus seeing the Native American logo and name of the mascot.
“I thought that it wasn’t a nice term and I don’t think it’s okay to use a race as a mascot,” Bird said.
Bird explains the current climate of Black Lives Matter protests should also include this cause,.
“If you’re fighting for equality in one area, you should be fighting for it in all areas. For all Black, indigenous people of color, and so we’re just trying to show that Anderson does stand in solidarity with that.”
Tony Henson is a board member of the Native American Guardian’s Association.
He told FOX19 NOW he’s speaking on behalf of roughly 500 people in Anderson who want to keep the mascot but are apprehensive about speaking on the issue for fear of retaliation.
“There’s a lot of hesitancy for the supporters to come forward,” said Henson.
Henson claims support for the mascot also comes from within the Native American culture.
“80-90 percent of Native Americans have no problems with these names and images, and many, many, in fact, support them,” said Henson.
The main reasoning behind wanting to keep the mascot?
“We believe that having a native theme provides a unique and powerful opportunity to educate about Native Americans and to keep them in remembrance,” said Henson.
According to Henson, this issue is not unique to Anderson. It is happening across the country.
“It’s very hate-driven. It’s very radical that’s trying to just get rid of every reference to Native Americans everywhere,” said Henson.
“Anderson has really amazing people that go here, and I don’t think the mascot is representative of that,” Bird countered. “I believe using someone’s race as a mascot, an oppressed minority, is not okay, and it’s dehumanizing.”