California residents of a San Francisco Bay Area community are pushing back against calls to cancel Concord High School’s much-loved mascot, a gun-toting Minuteman that has come under fire for being neither woke nor inclusive.
The debate over the mascot has been raging for months, and angry parents are offering a compromise: Disarm the inspirational symbol of the American Revolutionary War and add a female militia member.
“Minutemen had a proud history,” parent Julie Lyster told NBC Bay Area, “they weren’t just men, there were women, there were African Americans.”
“Remove the musket. Add a woman beside the Minuteman,” Lyster suggested. “There were women minutemen, and African American minutemen.”
Concord High Principal Julene Mackinnon takes issue with the weapon the mascot is holding.
“Some of the brutality,” she said, “them being a militia.”
“I’m a former Minuteman,” Mackinnon added. “That’s my history. I went to school here, graduated class of ‘91 but I also want to make sure that we have a mascot that represents everyone.”
The Mount Diablo Unified School board meeting was packed on Wednesday with parents, students, and alumni who want to save the mascot and keep their history intact, KRON reports.
“I have relatives that were in the Revolutionary War,” Wes Anderson said at the meeting. “They would be appalled at the fact that we are losing our heritage.”
One year ago, in a bizarre bid to make students feel safer and more welcome, the district voted to “move away from mascots that depicted groups of humans,” according to KRON. The shift sparked the Minuteman mayhem, taking up time and money that some say could be put to better use.
“While we’re standing here in a meeting talking about spending millions of dollars on a new mascot, there are students sitting in a classroom planning their moves to escape in case there was an active shooter on campus,” said former Concord High student Rachel Lloyd. “I was one of those students.”
Options for a new animal mascot were floated among the school’s students, but an option for keeping things just the way they are was not given.
Last year, the Minuteman was nearly replaced with a crocodile, but “that never went through due to transparency issues and a lack of student involvement,” NBC Bay Area reports.
This year, students responded to a survey, and it looks like they are now leaning, however reluctantly, toward a bear.
“A total of 500 out of more than 1,100 students participated and leading the poll are the bears,” the outlet states.
But that doesn’t mean the student body is celebrating.
“Out of the 500 that voted only 190 voted for the bears, so I don’t think the students are excited about either,” one parent said.
“They were never given an option to make adjustments, make changes to the mascot to become more inclusive,” said Lyster.
The Minuteman’s fate will remain in the air at least until next month.
“The board will also hear from Concord High School administration about why they support the change at a board meeting in May,” KRON reports. “That board meeting, however, has not been finalized.”
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