LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Jefferson County Public Schools announced it could consider renaming some of its mascots and schools, several of which are named for Confederate soldiers and slave owners, as a part of its racial equity plan.
During Tuesday’s board meeting, JCPS leaders discussed running all high school mascots through the Racial Equity Analysis Protocol, which is comprised of a series of questions that ensure any decision the board makes does not disproportionately impact students of color.
“The sensitivity behind that has been long overdue,” JCPS Chief Equity Officer Dr. John Marshall said, “and if we find mascots and other things that are marginalizing and muting students of color and voices, then that will be changed.”
The board said it plans to look at mascots first; one example mentioned is the Atherton High School Rebel.
An archivist for regional history at the University of Louisville, Tom Owen, said JCPS had previously changed the way the Atherton High Rebel looked in the 1970s
“The mascot looked like a Confederate soldier, and there was a great deal of protest about that,” Owen said. “The school decided to redress the mascot as a Revolutionary War rebel in rebellion against England. That was thus far the accommodation on the Atherton High School Rebel mascot.”
JCPS said once it runs all mascots through REAP, it will move to school names. No specific names were mentioned during Tuesday’s board meeting, but some that could be considered is Watterson Elementary and Breckinridge-Franklin Elementary, which are named after a Confederate soldier and former slave owners, respectively.
“Generally speaking, the Breckinridge family in Louisville history was a slave-holding family,” Owen said.
Owen said it’s important not to get too attached to school names because they often change based on various factors.
“Part of it is schools merge, schools move, schools change, the sitting school board makes designation based on what’s going on this year, not anticipating what will be going on 15 years from now, so it’s a highly fluid process,” Owen said.