While the vote does
not eliminate mascots, it sets out the board's intent to do
so, and it also means the board will develop a policy to
eliminate the mascots after a 30-day period to gather public
Two Guilford County Schools currently have Native American
mascots: T. Wingate Andrews High School (The Red Raiders) and
Southern Guilford High School (Indians).
The vote was a victory for Monroe Gilmour, who spoke to the
board Tuesday, and others who have advocated for the change of
American Indian mascots, such as the National Center for
Community and Justice and other local and national groups.
"Well, I think this is a useful first step," said Gilmour,
of the Asheville-based N.C. Mascot Education and Action Group,
which advocates for doing away with American Indian mascots.
"I really see it as a movement of society to improve itself
one more time, just as we got rid of black and white water
Susan Mendenhall, who made the motion, said "we as a board
of education need to provide leadership ... I would like this
board to make a decision and take a stand and use it as a
Board members Deena Hayes and Johnny Hodge both said the
mascots should be changed, not because it is politically
correct but because, as Hayes said, "this is not a politically
correct issue, it's a humane and just issue."
Changing the mascots will not come without a cost. Guilford
County Schools Superintendent Terry Grier estimates changing
uniforms and other material to erase the mascots could cost
upward of $125,000.
And not everyone was in favor of the vote. Anita Sharpe,
who represents Southern Guilford as part of her district,
voted against the motion. Sharpe argued the school board
should not vote without the input of the other side of the
"We have been talking for one hour, and I don't think it's
fair and I don't think it's just if we don't allow the schools
who are involved and we the alumni of those schools to be
involved," Sharpe said. "We are directing staff to begin the
process of eliminating Indian mascots, and we haven't even
heard from the other side."
Board Chairman Alan Duncan asked Gilmour if other groups
are targeted for change.
"There are, as you are well aware, mascots relating to
other ethnicities, for example in North Carolina there are the
... Fighting Scots, there are the Northwest Guilford High
School Vikings," Duncan said. "Is the initiative that you are
focused on solely on Native American mascots or does it have a
"We are focusing on the Native American mascots," Gilmour
replied. "If there is another groups that feel offended, we
would be happy to listen to them, but right now this is the
Southern Guilford High School principal Steve Hodgin
declined comment until he had had the opportunity to go back
to his school and discuss the board's decision with staff.
Native American mascots have drawn controversy over the
past years. National organizations have called for eliminating
the mascots. The U.S. Justice Department was involved in
urging Buncombe County Schools to eliminate their female
sports mascots, The Squaws.
Sean Olson can be contacted
at 888-3627 or