Logo changes for Tyler Legacy (top), Tyler (second from top), North Richland Hills Richland (second from bottom), Midland Lee (bottom)
With the controversy surrounding the NFL’s Washington Football Team (formerly known as the Washington Redskins) name reaching a tipping point where big-money sponsors pushed the organization to make a change, the change of derogatory or confederate nomenclature trickled down to the high school levels, including Texas.
The first change was Arlington Martin moving completely away from the headdress logo and going strictly with the Rockin’ M logo (and its subsequent variants). The outcry didn’t stop there across the state as other ISDs have been pressured to make changes, and to most of their collective credit, they responded positively.
To date, four ISDs have made changes to mascot or high school names, including Arlington Martin.
In mid-July, Tyler ISD made the swift change to both of its high schools, changing Tyler John Tyler High School back to Tyler High School (Lions) and Tyler Lee High School to Tyler Legacy High School (Red Raiders) – both mascots received an logo update but no name changes. The school board did not get to a second vote on changing the school names back in 2018.
From East Texas to West Texas involved Midland ISD, as the board voted to change Robert E. Lee Senior High School and Robert E. Lee Freshman High School names. After the vote approval, Midland ISD School Board President Rick Davis told the Dallas Morning News that the future of the mascot – currently the Rebels – would most likely be influenced by the new names of the schools. He also added that it didn’t make much sense to keep the current nickname.
The other change was in the DFW Metroplex as Birdville ISD trustees unanimously approved the switch for Richland’s mascot from Rebels to Royals, the second school in UIL to don that moniker (the first in the UIL to compete in UIL athletics). Richland High School was named the Rebels back in 1961, but a groundswell of support came recently to change the name. Quietly, Richland had been distancing away from the confederate theme in its logo marks as it used a red flag with a blue vertical bar and white stars. On its athletic page, though, Richland had been using a solid navy blue R in front of a white Texas with a navy blue outline. The district said it is working with a designer to develop and conceptualize the new Richland Royals brand.
While positive change has been made across the state, there are other districts staying the course on their high school names or mascot, most notably Donna ISD, which has Donna Redskins and Donna North Chiefs. In mid-July, the district said, “for nearly 100 years, the Donna ISD community has taken pride in our Donna Redskin tradition which we hold with tremendous honor.”
Donna ISD did not shut down the idea of a name change entirely, but said they are not focused on name changes at that time. Other high schools across the country made changes in recent years. In Michigan. the Paw Paw school board voted to remove the Redskins name from their high school, and here in Texas, Lamar High School in Houston change their name from Redskins to Texans back in 2014.