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Vestavia Hills Continues Mascot Discussion

The Vestavia Hills Board of Education will continue to discuss the school’s Rebel mascot at a special called meeting Wednesday evening. The board initially heard from a capacity crowd, of over 175  residents, during a work session July 8th.

During the meeting board members heard from supporters and opponents of the mascot ranging from parents, alumni, former “Rebel Man” mascots and a state legislator.

“I don’t want my child exposed to images of a time when she would have been viewed as less than human,” said parent Kira Fonteneau. “Changing the mascot makes us look like the wonderful community that we are.”

Among those who spoke in support of retaining the mascot included three black students who have portrayed the “Rebel Man” mascot.  Calvin Wright, a 2012 graduate who was the first black student to play the Rebel Man, said there was no need to change the mascot.

“What happened in the past happened in the past, “Wright said, “that’s why it’s called history.”

State Senator Jabo Waggoner spoke in support of keeping the mascot.

“I’m here supporting the legacy, the history of Vestavia Hills High School since 1971.  We are the Rebels. We need to remain the Rebels.  If we change the mascot, what’s next?”

This is not the first time Vestavia officials have discussed making changes to the Rebel mascot.  In 2000 the board heard from community members concerning altering the schools mascot and discontinuing the use of the confederate battle flag at VHHS sporting events.  No official action was taken in 2000 but six years later the school introduced a redesigned flag intended to replace the confederate flag at school sponsored events.

The current discussion at Vestavia Hills comes on the heels of a national debate centered around the removal of confederate era symbolism.  Following the tragedy at  Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC, columnist John Archibald called on the school to remove the Rebel mascot calling it a “vestige of racism” and a “smear on the city”.

The board could recommend a complete mascot name change, altering or changing the the “Rebel Man” mascot or take no action at all.

The estimated cost of changing the mascot, depending on what is chosen, could cost the school system around $200,000.