A high school in Portland, Ore., has postponed changing its mascot to the evergreen tree after a committee member raised concerns over the possible racist connotations.
The Ida B. Wells-Barnett High School’s namesake is the Pulitzer Prize-winning African American journalist who extensively reported on and protested against lynching, reports the Portland Tribune. Originally, the evergreen tree was proposed because, according to Ellen Whatmore, a mascot committee member and a teacher at the school, evergreens “are characterized by the life-giving force of their foliage, the strength of their massive trunk, and the depth of their roots—in an individual tree and as a forest of trees.”
“They provide shelter and sustenance. They have histories that preclude us and will continue in perpetuity after we are no more,” Whatmore added.
The evergreen was the frontrunner out of 420 different nominations, but then Michelle DePass, the director of the Portland Public Schools Board of Education, suggested that the tree’s connotations to lynching could be problematic.
The Ida B. Wells-Barnett High School was formerly known as Woodrow High School. Earlier this year, the school was renamed because the former Democrat president segregated federal offices in his administration, and wrote a book that some consider sympathetic to the KKK.
“I’m wondering if there was any concern with the imagery there, in using a tree … as our mascot?” DePass asked. “I think everyone comes with blind spots and I think that might’ve been a really big blind spot.”
DePass is the only black member school board.
Her concerns resulted in the board postponing the vote on the new mascot until they could reach out to Wells-Barnett’s family to see if they had any issue with it.
Matt Margolis is the author of Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trump, and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter, Gab, Facebook, MeWe, Heroes, Rumble, and CloutHub.