Parkwood High’s ‘Rebel’ mascot faces another fight

By Steve Lyttle
Posted: Tuesday, Jun. 23, 2009

Parkwood High School’s "Rebel" is in the midst of another fight.

The school’s mascot, the subject of controversy for at least 20 years, has drawn the opposition of the Monroe chapter of the NAACP.

About 30 members of the group met Monday night in Monroe and discussed their dislike of the Rebel as mascot at Parkwood High, in the Roughedge community of southern Union County.

The argument has been heard before — many African Americans feel the Rebel mascot is a sign of support for life in the South during slavery, and of what they say was the South’s effort in the Civil War to maintain slavery.

NAACP chapter President Nathel Hailey said the group would like the name changed, but it hopes gentle pressure from the community will convince Union County Schools Superintendent Ed Davis to take action.

Among those speaking at the meeting was Janice McGee, a Parkwood alum whose husband, Bobby, is head coach of the boys’ basketball team at Parkwood — and is also an alum.

“Back in the day we wanted it changed and we didn’t have a voice," Janice McGee said, according to NewsChannel 36, the Observer’s news partner. "So I’m proud to be standing here today to try and have a voice."

During Monday’s meeting, NewsChannel 36 reported, NAACP officials read several letters from African American residents, who said the Rebel mascot is an insult to the community.

Union County Schools officials have conducted surveys of students at least three times in recent years, and the proposal to change the mascot was overwhelmingly defeated.

Davis, the superintendent, has not responded to the latest call from the NAACP. But he is not new to the controversy.

He was principal at Parkwood High in the 1990s, and under his leadership, the school several times surveyed students and the Parkwood community, asking if they wanted the name changed. In each case, he said at the time, the vote strongly favored keeping the Rebel as mascot.

A group of Parkwood graduates and current students has organized a Facebook group, building support for keeping the Rebel mascot. They say it is an integral part of the tradition at the school, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year.

According to several posts on that Facebook account, supporters of the current mascot say that to them, the Rebel is a sign of someone who is willing to challenge authority.

Another Union County high school, Monroe, changed its nickname in April 1995, switching from Rebels to Red Hawks. And nearby South Stanly High recently changed from Rebels to Rebel Bulls.

There appear to be two other North Carolina high schools with the Rebel as mascot — North Duplin High, near Mount Olive in the eastern part of the state; and West Lincoln High, in the Vale community.

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