It doesn’t take long to look around and see that America has become no country for old Confederates. Now, apparently, it has become no place for old Confederate horses either.
‘Traveler IX,’ the ninth horse in a long line of beautiful Arabian horses that have carried sword-wielding USC Trojans onto the Coliseum grounds since 1956, may not get his chance carry on this proud tradition. Or, quite possibly, he might have to do it under a different name.
That’s because a campus group at USC has linked Traveler’s name, to the name of Robert E. Lee’s horse, ‘Traveller.’
According to The Daily Trojan, “…Saphia Jackson, co-director of the USC Black Student Assembly, asked students not to be quiet, and reminded that “white supremacy hits close to home” and referenced the name of the Trojans mascot.
“The Black Student Assembly did not respond to requests for comment, but questions about the name’s provenance have increased on social media in the midst of the national discussion on race.”
Pat Saukko DeBernardi, widow of Richard Saukko, the man who rode the first Traveler onto the field in 1956, was quick to point out Traveler’s bipartisan nature. “The problem is this: maybe three weeks ago it was fine,” Pat Saukko DeBernardi said. “So now the flavor of the day is . . . we all have to be in hysteria. . . . It’s more of a political issue. The horse isn’t political and neither am I.”
Saukko, while noting that Lee’s horse had an extra ‘l’ in the spelling. Also pointed out that her late husband’s Arabian, the first Traveler, had already been given that name by the previous owner.
A USC spokesman addressed the issue of Traveler’s name on the school website.
“USC’s mascot horse is a symbol of ancient Troy. Its rider, with costume and sword, is a symbol of a Trojan warrior,” the final paragraph said. “The name Traveler, spelled with one ‘l,’ is a common name among horses. . . . USC’s Traveler is and has always been a proud symbol of Troy. There is no truth to any other claims or rumors about its name.”
Pat Saukko DeBernardi doesn’t foresee USC making any changes to the school’s mascot.
“Over at USC they’re nonpolitical about their horse. What if their name would be Lee? Would they want to change it? It doesn’t make any difference. . . . He’s a wonderful horse and a great mascot.”
We shall see.