The D.C. Chapter of the ANSWER Coalition is actively supporting the efforts of the Change the Name Now campaign, a coalition of organizers and activists building grassroots support for the ongoing campaigns to force the Washington NFL franchise to change its racist name. They can be contacted at [email protected]. Like the page on Facebook here. Below is introductory information and a petition reprinted from the campaign's website.
No matter how badly the NFL and the Washington franchise want to pretend that the “Redskins” name and mascot convey “strength, courage, pride and respect,” that it’s part of a “proud tradition,” the fact remains that it is anything but: It is, always has been and always will be racist, demeaning and degrading.
Consider the following:
- George Preston Marshall and other investors founded the Boston "Braves” in 1932, naming them after the baseball team of the same name. Marshall changed the name to “Redskins” the next year to play up a warrior image and to “honor” head coach Lone Star Dietz, who claimed to be part Sioux. Marshall then signed players from an American Indian school and had them join Dietz for a photo op wearing war paint and feather headdresses.
- Marshall moved the team to Washington in 1937. In so becoming the owner of the southernmost team in the early NFL, he hoped to become the “team of the South.”
- Early pro football had always included a small number of Black players; within a year of Marshall entering the league as an owner, an informal ban had taken affect.
- The LA Rams broke the ban and signed Black players in 1946. By 1950, every team in the NFL had Black players on its roster. Every team but Washington, that is. Marshall’s club didn’t sign its first Black player until 1962, and then only because the federal government intervened. Marshall, an ardent segregationist, had said that he would “start signing Negro players when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites.”
Increasing numbers of media outlets and sports figures are refusing to use the name. Native Americans have been struggling to force a change of name and mascot since the 70s, from Suzan Shown Harjo's trademark suits (read about the ongoing Blackhorse v. Pro-Football Inc. case here) to the Oneida Nation's current media campaign (Listen to the most recent radio ad!). The American Indian Movement and the National Congress of American Indians, among others, have denounced the use of the racial slur as a football mascot. Mayor Gray, the DC Council and now even the ANCs are pushing for change, as are millions of people across the country and around the world.
Change the Name Now demands:
- That the Washington NFL franchise change its name, mascot and logo
- That the franchise develop a public educational campaign on the reality of Native American history
- That the franchise fund scholarship and athletic programs for Native youth
- That the franchise initiate a merchandise exchange or buy-back program to motivate fans to adopt the new name, mascot and logo and remove the old, racist standard from public view
More information can be found at ChangetheNameNow.org.