CALEDONIA, Miss. (WCBI)-Caledonia’s sports teams will have a new name.
The name Confederates or “Feds” is officially being retired.
The school was first given the nickname in 1957, but during Friday’s school board meeting, members voted unanimously to adopt a new nickname and mascot.
This decision comes after dozens of parents and community members voiced their concerns about what the nickname portrays.
“I’m excited, I’m really excited this was a long time coming,” said Naterika Shellman recent Caledonia High School graduate.
“I’m happy, I feel like they acted responsibly, they listened to us, and they did the right thing,” said Amanda Neilson, who’s been advocating for the name change for more than a month.
Neilson organized the group “Unify Caledonia” in an effort to have the name removed.
“As I looked into this whole thing, it became apparent that black members of the community have been asking for these changes for at least 40 years, and nothing has been done,” Neilson expressed.
Neilson has two kids in the school district.
While her kids are having good experiences at the school, she knows that’s not the case for everyone, including her neighbor Shellman.
Shellman believes the name Confederates should have been retired years ago.
“Now I know the school is taking steps forward to address theses problems, so it’ll be better for my younger brother who won’t have to go through the same thing as I went through or have to ignore the same things that I’ve had to ignore,” said Shellman.
“I myself have seen a sort of self-segregation that seems to have happened between the towns in my area, and the name seems to contribute to that,” said Neilson. “As I talked to people, they feel intimidated by the name, so that’s not appropriate for a school mascot, it’s time to change that.”
“To my understanding, the board did not pick the mascot, that’s one thing I struggled with, if the board didn’t do it why should they change it, but I think the board needed to take a leadership position on this topic and make the decision we made, but ultimately, it’s going to be the principal and community to decide what the new mascot should be,” said Brian Clark, who voted in favor of the name change.
The process to determine what’s next is now underway.
The principal, student body, community members, and alumni now have 60 days to decide on a new name and mascot then present it to the board to make a vote.
“If we decide what the mascot is in this room, we may pick something that’s not indicative of what the community represents, so we want them to do it,” said Clark. “I want to say, I don’t think the mascot, the community views it as racist at all. I have been in that community my entire life, I don’t see anything racist going on, it’s just some people outside looking in viewing it that way, and it’s just time to change that stance.”
The new name and mascot will be presented to the board in September and will officially take effect immediately following the board’s vote.