WASHINGTON — D.C.’s delegate to Congress is seizing the occasion of the Washington Redskins’ season opener this weekend to call out the team’s “racist moniker” and pressure a name change.
The Redskins, who finished last season 8-7-1, open their season Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field in Maryland.
“The Washington football team name mocks and insults Native Americans and does not deserve to be associated with the proud and welcoming city of Washington, D.C.,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said in a statement today. “By kowtowing to Daniel Snyder, the National Football League (NFL) is equally complicit in his team’s shameful use of a racist slur that has no place in today’s society.”
“The team name will eventually change, so I urge Commissioner Roger Goodell — and the NFL’s 31 other team owners — to do the right thing and exert pressure on Mr. Snyder so that this embarrassing era in American sports may finally end,” she said.
Last month, after the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the city’s decision to remove a Robert E. Lee monument from a public park, the Change the Mascot campaign sent an open letter to Redskins owner Snyder stressing that “at a moment in which we have seen armed neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan leaders, and an assortment of white supremacists and other racists terrorize a city within your team’s geographic area, we are hopeful that we can momentarily set aside those disagreements and find common ground with you on a related effort to end the promotion of proud and unrepentant icons of bigotry.”
“Specifically, we are asking you to join with other teams and end the practice of venerating segregationists who helped promote the Confederacy and its abominable legacy of slavery. We invite you and the Washington football team to officially join our effort to remove the statue and separate stadium memorial to George Preston Marshall – the founder of your franchise,” the activists wrote. “Marshall’s bigotry extended well beyond his abhorrent decision to use a racial slur as his team’s name. During his day, he was one of America’s most infamous and outspoken segregationists – and his legacy is marred by discriminatory words and deeds directed at people of color.”
“…After the terrible events in Charlottesville, officials in Baltimore – which is also in your team’s area – opted to remove Confederate iconography from their city. At the same time, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rays and Lightning together dedicated resources to remove a Confederate memorial from that city’s courthouse steps. Similarly, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry is presently leading efforts to change the name of Yawkey Way, a street in the city named after a former team owner who refused to integrate the team.”
Snyder, they said, could “play a pivotal role by removing the Marshall memorial in front of your team’s previous stadium, and remove Marshall’s name from the stadium section at your team’s current stadium.”
The campaign against the Redskins team name added that “our vigorous disagreement over your use of the R-word will continue, but at this moment of national crisis we believe there is a unique opportunity for us to stand together in solidarity and immediately remove these symbols of hate. We hope you agree.”