HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Hundreds of students and alumni from Douglas Freeman High School have signed a petition to express support for a “Rebel Man” mascot for the West End school.
Rising Freeman senior Alecsys Brown, who started the petition, said there is a lot of confusion among her classmates about why the school surveyed students asking them what the school's mascot should look like and what the mascot will be.
She said the confusion compelled her to take a stand in favor of the school's original “Rebel Man” mascot.
“Our school is named after Douglas Southall Freeman who was the biographer of General Robert E. Lee who was a southern general," Brown said. "So, I think rightfully our mascot should be a southern soldier or the Rebel Man."
Henrico County Public Schools stopped using the school’s original Freeman "Rebel Man" mascot years ago, but the school’s competitive name remains the Freeman Rebels.
"I know at one point the Rebel Man had a musket and a Confederate flag, but those things have been taken away, so now he’s just this harmless man running around in gray and blue at football games,” Brown said.
But, apparently not everyone thinks he is harmless.
According to Al Ciarochi, Henrico County Schools Assistant Superintendent for Operations, some students expressed interest in a new representation of a Freeman Rebel hoping for something inclusive that was more reflective of a contemporary Freeman High School.
If a new mascot comes to fruition, student Jamie Lockwood said she wanted to dress up in the mascot costume at Freeman games, but she is conflicted about what the mascot should look like.
“I, in no way, want to be linked to the Confederacy, southern pride, the South will rise again,” Lockwood said.
Still, she said it seemed most students wanted the Rebel Man, but she was told her costume will be a lion (Rebel Lion aka rebellion).
“We just don’t identify with a lion,” Lockwood said.
Ciarochi said no decisions have been made yet about what Freeman's mascot would look like. However, he also said there were no plans to reinstate the original Rebel Man mascot.
His statement in full:
"The original Freeman Rebel mascot’s use was discontinued many years ago. The school’s competitive name remains the Freeman Rebels. Last school year, some of the student body expressed interest in creating a new representation of what personifies a Freeman Rebel and the student government sought feedback through a student survey on what that might look like. No decisions have been made in this regard, nor are there plans to reinstate the original mascot. It is believed that the effort was intended to create a rebel character that is inclusive and reflects a contemporary Freeman."