Vestavia Hills High School has been catching a lot of heat for their name, “the Rebels” and their mascot, a caricature of an elderly Southern plantation owner. Several weeks ago, the public was given a chance to weigh in on the decision to keep the name and mascot or eliminate both. Last night, the Vestavia Hills Board of Education unanimously voted to keep the name, but not the mascot. WBHM’s Les Lovoy reports on why board members made this decision.
Last night, approximately 100 citizens attended the Vestavia Hills Board of Education meeting with one thing in mind: the future of their mascot. Sheila Phillips, superintendent of the board, recommended the district keep the “Rebel” name, but scrap the mascot itself.
“Logos change,” she says, “It doesn’t change who you are, it modifies how you are branded.”
Minutes later, the rest of the board agreed, with a unanimous vote to do just that.
Before leaving the meeting, attendee Steven Craft says he feels the decision is the best option for the high school.
“This is a positive step for inclusiveness, for the community,” he says, “I know there is still concern over the name Rebel, and that’s something we’re going to need to reclaim, especially in the context where we are in the deep south.”
Not all attendees felt the same way, however. Attendee Dean Paul said the mascot was never meant to represent racism or inequality.
“I was part of the student body that chose the Rebel name and the mascot,” he says, “Both of these things were chosen to reflect rebellion. There was no connection to anything shameful about the confederacy or slavery or anything like that.”
Superintendent Phillips noted at the meeting that the process of choosing the new mascot will be comprehensive, and will include all interested parties and stakeholders, particularly the student body of Vestavia Hills High.