Group calls for removal of ‘Red Raider’ mascot at Gaston County school

The image is of a Native American warrior with red skin. It’s been the mascot of South Point High School since 1947.
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 7:05 AM EST
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GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A rally was held Monday as participants want to remove a long-time mascot from a Gaston County school.

Students, tribal citizens, and others in the community want the Red Raider dropped as the South Point High School mascot. This latest rally came as Native American Heritage Month is observed.

The “Retire the Red Raider” group is calling for a new mascot. They want the Gaston County School Board to remove the Red Raider name and image, saying it’s inaccurate and offensive.

The image is of a Native American warrior with red skin. It’s been the mascot of South Point High School since 1947.

The coalition to remove the Red Raider took place 4:30 p.m. Monday, an hour before the Gaston County School Board meeting.

Members tried to pressure the board to add the discussion of the removal of Native American mascots in Gaston County Schools to the agenda. They say the board has ignored their concerns.

Meanwhile, there are others who support keeping the name just the way it is. They say there have never been any concerns about the mascot until now.

Some blame the new concern on recent cancel culture. However, one organizer with the Catawba tribe says it’s more than that.

“They’re inaccurate, they’re demeaning, they’re stereotypical,” rally organizer Hayley Brezeale said. “They really teach especially non-native students incorrect information about us. It makes us look very violent. Just the information itself is historically inaccurate.”

This has been a debate for years, making for a heated topic on both sides of the aisle.

The Board of Education released the following statement:

For some time, the mascot for South Point High School has been debated among people associated with the Belmont community. The Board of Education has not conducted a formal discussion about the issue nor has the Board taken any action; however, the Board has heard from citizens (both proponents and opponents) during the public expression portion of the Board meetings.

The Board of Education does not have a policy that addresses school mascots. Traditionally, school colors, logos, mascots, etc. are determined at the school level based on information and recommendations from a committee that is usually made up of school and community representatives.

For example, when Stuart W. Cramer High School opened in 2013, a school/community committee was responsible for selecting the school colors and the “Storm” mascot. Several years ago, Pinewood Elementary decided to change its mascot to the “Porcupines” based on feedback and recommendations from its school community. Most recently, a school-based committee selected the “Phoenix” as the mascot for the new Gaston Early College of Medical Sciences. When mascot-related decisions such as these come to the Board of Education, it is done more so for informational purposes rather than to seek the Board’s approval.

The Board of Education realizes that people have strong feelings related to school mascots. Some people say the South Point mascot is tradition while others say it is inappropriate. The Board has heard both sides of the issue and believes changing a mascot should start at the school and community level since it is at this level where school mascots, colors, logos, etc. are typically determined.

Related: Petition started to change N.C. high school’s ‘Red Raider’ mascot

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