A Texas middle school abruptly dropped its mascot, “Rebel,” and did so without any formal discussion with parents or taxpayers. They said their decision stemmed from community “concerns” surrounding the national conversation on Confederate iconography in the public forum.
Last Thursday, students at Carl O. Hamlin Middle School learned Corpus Christi Independent School District officials stripped away their longstanding “Rebel” mascot from their school logo. According to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the school district sprung the news on Hamlin parents, students, and faculty. The only explanation administrators provided was that they heard concerns from the community.
This marks yet another Texas school district to shun Old South historical images by asserting “concerns” in response to August’s protest violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Breitbart Texas reported North East ISD trustees voted to rename their Robert E. Lee High despite no reported or disclosed threats. Still, school board members determined the Confederate general’s mere name posed a “disruption to the mission of educating students and a potential safety concern to students and staff.” Then, Midland ISD administrators axed the few bars of the Civil War tune “Dixie” that remained in their Lee High School’s fight song “On, On Rebels” out of concern for student away game safety.
Interestingly, amid the school district’s Confederate concerns, Hamlin Middle School, which opened in 1954, enrolled 617 students in the 2015-16 school year of which 503, or 82 percent, identified as Hispanic; 88, or 14 percent as Caucasian; and 18 students, or 3 percent, as African American.
Breitbart Texas reached out to Corpus Christi ISD (CCISD) spokeswoman Leanne Winkler Libby for more information about these purported community concerns. She responded with a press release:
CCISD recently received feedback from community members expressing concerns regarding the Hamlin mascot, the Rebel. Similar concerns have been shared with schools and cities throughout the nation. In light of the concerns expressed in our community, CCISD removed the Rebel mascot yesterday and replaced it with an interim logo.
The release then segued into how “Hamlin Middle School students, staff, and parents will have the opportunity to participate in the process of selecting a new mascot”:
In the coming weeks, school leaders will visit with students, staff, parents and the Campus Advisory Team to gather input regarding a new mascot that will represent Hamlin pride.
Once that process is complete, the district will design concept logos, and the students, staff and parents will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite one. The winning logo will be presented to the CCISD Board of Trustees for final approval.
The school district encouraged “the Hamlin community to get involved in the selection process, which is a wonderful opportunity for fostering school spirit.”
Breitbart Texas asked Libby about the nature and number of complaints or threats school district received to prompt the swift removal of the Rebel mascot without any formal input from its home community. Instead, she responded, “While community feedback played a role, it was the district’s decision to begin the process of selecting a new mascot and logo.”
The spokeswoman noted, “We look forward to working closely with Hamlin students, staff, and families to create a new image that fosters school pride.”
Many parents and graduates already felt the school fostered school pride and vowed to fight the stealth re-brand. The Hamlin Parent Teacher Association (PTA) launched an online petition Friday to “Keep the Hamlin REBEL logo!” It called the “Hamlin Middle School mascot is a symbol of tradition and pride in our community. The mascot SHOULD NOT be changed.” As of press time, the petition had more than 540 signatures of its 1,000 goal.
Re-branding can be expensive. Previously, Libby estimated the price of a new marquee at $25,000. “These decisions are not made lightly,” she told the Caller-Times. “While costly, it is an action the district deemed necessary.”
Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.