|Ole Miss' new Black Bear Inspired by|
a William Faulkner character
New Lesson's Learned
10.15.2010 By Winsip Custer CPW News Service
The clock is ticking for high schools like Midland, Texas' Lee High School where former First Lady Laura Bush dreamed of marrying a President, actor Tommy Lee Jones dreamed of earning an Oscar and US Army General Tommy Franks dreamed of leading an army in Iraq. Named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the school mascot is a painful reminded of the divisive civil war that split the nation. "It's time to make a change," said Sedwick Newhouse, of Pensacola, Florida, president of Teachers and Parents for Responsible Mascots.
"There's going to be hurt feelings no matter what you do," said Newhouse, "but it's not appropriate to continue to hold up images of our brokenness and ask everyone to cheer the contradictions. What message does that give to the students in America's educational system? The Confederacy ended and with it the evils of slavery which anyone who's worked at Walmart will tell you is painful. What a great opportunity to rewrite the school's legacy. Imagine that Colonel Reb could become Colonel Bare, a nutty kind of military figure who's slightly quirky and wears only a hat that's half gray and half blue to symbolize our confused past, his friend can be his Black Bear. Colonel Bare cannot lead the Black Bear on a chain since that would recall images of slavery. But they can ride a bicycle built for two around the stadium after a score," said Newhouse.
Mr. Newhouse went on to say that he feels that schools should look long and hard before deciding on a new more egalitarian symbol for the school's team. In Savannah, Georgia the Nathan Bedford Forrest High School did just that. "The football team took the lead on the decision," said Newhouse. "They wanted something like the Purdue Boilermakers, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburg Steelers or the Hackers of Semi Valley High School in California. Something that symbolized American can-do spirit and citizens who through hard work and effort succeeded in scoring their life goals.
Newhouse explained how five of the team members from the Stonewall Jackson High School Rebels had worked in a Savannah warehouse at the port during their sophomore summer. The warehouse had been used by a specialized group of long shoremen during a fifteen year period beginning in the late 1870's. These longshoremen used large wooden jacks to compress the cotton into the holds of the ships in the years before the creation of the cotton press. Their work allowed for a ten to fifteen percent larger cargo and an increased profit margin for the ships' owners. The name of the union was the Screwmen Workers Union named for the screw jacks that made the additional profit possible. Through the keen insights of these five football players whose hot, sweltering summers were filled with dreams of getting back to school so that they could lead their team to athletic victory the new mascot was unveiled on the day that the school also announced its new name....William Jefferson Clinton High School and the "Charging Screwmen."