Heritage Or Hate? Change the Walpole High Mascot to something that unifies.
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Special Note: I was asked if this picture of Former Coach John Lee was Photo-shopped....no, it is an actual photo from the 1969 Walpole High School Yearbook. John Lee willingly posed for the photo.
Rebel Mascots were created primarily in the South during the Civil Rights Era in the United States in response to Federal mandates to desegregate public schools.
Walpole's Rebel Mascot became firmly rooted with its much heralded football coach, John Lee (photo above, from WHS 1969 yearbook), who, before he came to Walpole to coach its football team, was an assistant coach at Overton High School, Memphis Tennessee, a racist/segregated high school whose mascot was "The Rebels".
Walpole's Rebel Mascot is forever connected to the Civil Rights Era in a negative way due to that connection.
Currently Walpole's Track Coach, Mr. Tim Giblin, as well as the board of the Walpole X-Country/Track team, have decided to ban the word "Rebel" from Team uniforms.
Mascots are meant to unify, not divide people
A mascot that has to be explained in any way is inappropriate for a school system
Walpole currently has one mascot that is called Rebels, another called "The Porkers", and in 2018, a Cross-Country track team that will not even allow the name on its uniforms.
The Rebel Mascot has a direct link to the "Rebel" of the Civil Rights Era, as well as the "Rebels" of 1861-1865, who rose up in armed Rebellion against the USA to create their own country that supported the institution of slavery. That attempt at a new Nation failed miserably due to the steadfast determination of US Army/Navy soldiers/sailors who fought to maintain the Union,and who freed nearly 4 million African Americans in the process.
Walpole had numerous men involved in that conflict, including Pvt. Lowell E. Hartshorn, of Co. A, Mass. 56th Veteran Volunteers, who perished at the infamous Rebel Prison at Andersonville, GA in Dec. 1864. He was one of the nearly 13,000 US Army/Navy soldiers/sailors (about 750 from Massachusetts) who chose "Death Before Dishonor" rather that join the Rebel Cause....
A teaching moment is still at hand...does the Town of Walpole want to teach its children about its noble history and how it affected American History? Its time Walpole UNITE as our Union Soldiers did in 1861-1865....
If a town can't honor its soldiers who helped free nearly 4 million african americans from slavery in 1861-1865, how can it respect its African-American residents in 2018?
Michael E. Amaral
Walpole High Class of 1971
member: Walpole Historical Commission 2007-2015
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