A week after the Social Circle Board of Education defended its continued use of its controversial high school mascot, the Redskins, by saying they had received no formal complaints over the name, the complaints showed up.
Five different people spoke Thursday night at the monthly meeting of the SCBOE during the public participation phase of the meeting to decry the mascot identity, accusing it of being racist, demeaning and a black eye to an otherwise vibrant community.
Social Circle High School has been the Redskins for more than 50 years, but the name is used by only one other high school in the state. The NFL’s Washington Redskins team announced it would discontinue using the name this past week after years of protests and objections, leading other schools around the nation to reconsider their own use of Native American imagery as mascots.
Adoris Gibbs, a SCHS alumnus who previously sent a letter to the board objecting to the Redskins name, appeared in person Thursday night to continue her attack against the name.
Beginning with her family’s history of attending Social Circle schools and working within the community, Gibbs said she was proud of her city but not of her alma mater’s iconography.
“I am Social Circle,” Gibbs said. “I am not a Redskin.”
Gibbs said Social Circle needed to reconcile its history of social activism with a mascot based on caricatures of another ethnicity.
“We have a history of respecting civil rights here,” Gibbs said. “We honor diversity, yet we dishonor Native Americans with the name Redskins.
“I, too, once chanted Redskins. I was taught the same false narrative about that name. But Redskins is not a tribe. It is time to put truth over tradition. We must remove this stain.”
Gibbs was followed by her little brother, Simeon Gibbs, who still attends Social Circle Middle School. Simeon spoke of his time on his school’s news team, as he tried to include information about the offensive nature of the school mascot during the closed circuit news program’s diversity “fun fact” segment.
“Redskins is an insensitive and derogatory term for Native Americans,” Simeon said. “When I tried to say this as our ‘fun fact,’ it was taken out and I was told it was ‘editorializing.’”
Simeon has left the news team after twice having his attempt at activism edited out and then being removed from the program’s diversity committee, but he said he continues to hope the system will see the light over its mascot name.
“I hope you make the right decision,” Simeon said.
Keysey Provow, a member of the SCHS Class of 2011, came back to her hometown to also speak out against the mascot name.
“Having attended Social Circle schools my entire life, I was indoctrinated in this local tradition,” Provow said. “But the term Redskin is offensive and should not be used as a mascot. I strongly feel a change in this name would show what we as a community are meant to be.”
Deon Colquitt is a rising sophomore at SCHS and a member of some of the school’s athletic teams which bear the Redskins name and logo on their uniforms.
“As a student-athlete at Social Circle, I find it offensive that we continue to use Redskins as our school mascot,” Deon said. “This can affect the perception of our team to outsiders. How will we be seen by other teams with this racist term on our jerseys? Some people are more interested in protecting a mascot than the student-athletes.
“Now is the time to act. Change is not a terrible thing. Let’s be a part of that change.”
Finally, rising freshman Rashara Colquitt spoke out against the mascot name as well.
“This is an issue,” she said. “Native Americans have been trying to remove this name for decades and have been ignored. It is time to stop ignoring them and remove Redskins as our name.”
No one spoke in defense of the name, though public participants were required to register by Monday to speak to the board.
The board told each speaker they would receive a response from the superintendent. No public statement regarding the mascot name was given at Thursday night’s meeting.