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Hundreds sign petition for ‘Rebel Man’ mascot’s return at Freeman High

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.”

19 comments

  • The truth

    Give him his flag back… where trying to make an inperfect world a perfect world.. You cant change history!!!!!!!!!

  • Sam

    If you took any American history classes you were cheated or failed. Your argument is the one promoted by total fools or ignoramuses.

  • Billy Bearden

    A lion???? WhyTheFace???? Really Freeman High? A Rebel lion??
    Can we learn nothing from current history, where some idiots down at Ole Miss
    thought it funny to replace the Rebel Mascot based on black man Blind Jim Ivy
    with the stupid politically correct “Rebel black Bear” and it is a serious embarrassment to current students and alumni and the entire SEC.
    If the current lilly livered PeeCee administration is just too scared of the school’s namesake and history, I am sure they have openings in a school in New York or Chicago – and Greyhound and Delta is ready when you are.
    The ONLY thing that matters in this situation is how soon the REBEL MAN mascot will return to the sidelines, and what student besides Miss snooty Lockwood will adorn the costume.

  • Rebel

    As an almuni of Douglas Freeman, this is upsetting. To see policital correctness go way too far once again is even more upsetting. I bet the bears of the world are upset today knowing that we choose lions over bears.

  • mbaker9105

    As a personal genealogy researcher with almost every family root I have going England and Germany almost straight to Virginia, and a direct descendant of several Revolutionary War and many Confederate soldiers, your apparent lack of knowledge and false facts are astounding. You also seem to believe what you want to believe and things you heard. Please go educate yourself on the facts, a good reading to start with is the Compromise of 1850. A major factor of the war was the entry of new states as free or slave states. Another good read is “A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary volume I and II” by John B. Jones, written during the War right here in Richmond that will give you some further insight into the political workings of the Confederacy during the War, including the conscription issues. Many, if not most, of the Confederate soldiers fought because news was scarce then, many couldn’t read, and were basically played upon by the sense of Patriotism told to them by the well dressed educated rich people, who they thought must be smarter than they. And the Confederacy Conscription Acts pretty much ensured that it was poor country folk doing most of the fighting. Desertion rates were astounding, and right here in Virginia the Confederacy had to send forces to restore order and stop a potential rebellion in Floyd County. I myself have an ancestor we believe deserted (from Floyd County), as records show he pretty much disappeared and lived in other states until his death, when he was returned here and buried under a name he is believed to have assumed from another dead solder. Please educate yourself a little more. All that said, history is history, there are past events we like or dislike, people don’t have a right to not be offended, so if someone wants to fly a flag or have a mascot, have at it I say…..

    • Jay

      You certainly have a lot to say. Perhaps, a English major can help.
      Nonetheless, how do you explain the aristocratic, educated officers who did not own slaves, but were willing to risk life and limb “for The Cause”?
      You can draw on your vast knowledge for examples. I’d start with he, the General, who won the first CSA victory and the last. Never owned a slave, he did.

      • Sam

        Who are you talking/responding to and what are you talking about? Do you have a point in all that verbiage?

  • ken

    all while the test scores drop,attendance is down,detentions and suspensions rise.Seems they have more to worry about with the “contemporary” crowd then a mascot.PC alll the way Henrico

  • Dawn Mills Self

    As a student, I always thought it was pretty lame to have a mascot from the losing side of a war. I love the lion idea; the kids would get used to it. I also like the James Dean idea, if there are no royalties involved. As a nerd I am so sad that we can’t use admiral akbar.

    • CMC

      >”As a student, I always thought it was pretty lame to have a mascot from the losing side of a war.”

      If you can’t appreciate the significance of Richmond’s Civil War heritage, why comment on issues like this? Remarks like yours betray a cultural and historical ignorance unbefitting a member of this area’s community.

  • Laura Thurston Lanois

    A Douglas Southall Freeman Rebel is always a Rebel. How much PC is necessary to respect and preserve a legendary tradition? What next, rename the Redskins? It is all about respect in the true sense of the word, through action, not words.

  • bill pahnelas

    back in the mid 1970s we’d walk out of Freeman pep rallies when they started playing “dixie,” so it seems like maybe it IS time for the rebels to adopt a less offensive way of exhibiting their pride. western henrico is now a very racially and culturally diverse area, where you’re likely to meet russians and nepalese at the grocery store in addition to sons of confederate veteran types. i hate the oppressive federal govt as much as any true-blue tea partier, but spare me the nostalgia for the racist society that characterized the old south

    • B Addy

      Interesting , I don’t remember anyone walking out when they played Dixie in the 70’s.
      We loved it. And still do. We are not in Russia or Nepal. We are in what once was the capitol of the Confederacy. The “racist society” you speak of was a normal way of life during the times. I’m sure you know there were slaves in the North as well.

  • educationreformmovement

    Could you sign this petition: change.org/petitions/board-of-education-and-all-educational-facilities-and-municipalities-reform-education-so-that-it-s-fair-for-all-and-not-for-the-elite-few-or-the-dull-many-no-child-left-behind

  • Freeman Graduate

    As someone who graduated from Freeman this last year, I do not agree with changing anything. The whole thing was started by one white kid who was class president every year but lost senior year and will openly state that he loves attention and being in the spotlight. I’m not saying that that wanting to leave some sort of legacy his senior year is the only reason he started this, but it may have helped. Furthermore, throughout my four years at the school, I have never heard anyone say they were offended by the “Rebel Man” and most (if not all) students took pride in being a rebel. I also know that many of the students who have a right to actually be offended have even signed the petition and argued to keep the “Rebel Man” the way it is. The school surveyed us about what we wanted but never released the results or even asked if anyone was actually offended. I think the one white kid from Texas who started it all was trying to push his ideals on people who don’t want them as well as try to stay in the spotlight and leave a “legacy” of some sort. Also, “rebellion” is the dumbest thing I have ever heard in my life and there used to be a sign (last year or the year before; I can’t remember) that said “REBELlion” showing famous people who rebelled in the past and saying they were rebels and everyone just made fun of how it looked like “rebel-lion” and how f-ing stupid that looked and sounded.

  • Pam Hughes

    You can’t change your heritage, and why would you want to? Be proud, keep the Rebel Man mascot, and get back to what’s important…educating our children!

  • momofrebs

    It might be interesting to note that a teacher at Freeman assisted pushing for the lion and that teacher happens to be a graduate from Godwin……could an eagle want to get one over on the Rebels?????

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