Using the Braves, Indians, and Redskins as the names of professional sports teams should be joined with the ranks of the existence of Atlanta Crackers and Atlanta Black Crackers as former team names.
Northern and western colleges and universities have abandoned racist mascots but the University of Mississippi still calls their teams the Rebels. Why would a black athlete play at Ole Miss?
Further, why would a black athlete want to play at either the University of Georgia or Georgia Tech, neither more than 60 miles from the state-sponsored shrine to white supremacy at Stone Mountain?
The answer is simple: the normalization of racism along with the celebration of the Confederacy.
Spokespersons from both the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of the Confederate Veterans have admitted that the park belongs to “them:” their perspective, their honorarium, their plaque markers, and their celebration.
indeed, the Daughters of the Confederacy has re-emerged as a champion of shaping narratives. Black Americans were effectively hidden in plain sight in school history books.
Woodrow Wilson was hailed for his failed League of Nations; yet, his most enduring legacy was segregating federal employment, a practice that continues in some form more than 100 years later.
But Charles Drew’s accomplishments in storing and transfusing blood plasma were not mentioned. We learned about the contributions of black Americans like Marian Anderson, George Washington Carver, and Ralph Bunche only during Negro History Week and Black History Month.
Southern Blacks dutifully climbed the back or side stairs at movie theaters, sporting events, “wraslin’” matches and showcase events like the circus and ballet. Even Black leaders followed suit.
At the 1970 dedication of the Stone Mountain Confederate carvings, a leading Atlanta Black pastor, William Holmes Borders, delivered the invocation.
James Venable, the grand poobah of the KKK objected that it was “repugnant to a sense of due the memory of confederate (sic) veterans.” The State of Georgia had bought the mountain property from the Venable family in 1958 to enshrine the effort to maintain African slavery as a legal institution.
It is time for a new movement of civil disobedience and consciousness. Remove or cover the carvings and change the problematic namesakes of streets, buildings, and mascots. We can no longer compromise on racism!
Richard Rose serves as president of the Atlanta branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.