|'59ers Comment on "Redskins" Controversy|
December 2013, and again on 16 Jan 2014, the Houston Independent School
Board voted 7 to 0 to change the names of "derogatory" mascots, to
include the Lamar Redskins. (Big Red has long since been
retired). News reports on the vote and the reaction can be found here. Some of our classmates have strong opinions on this subject:|
17 January 2014
TO: Terry Grier and Harvin Moore
FROM: Jon Fleming
RE: Big Red's Institutional Demise and Political Correctness - HISD Board Action of Yesterday
CC: The Mirabeau B. Lamar High School Class of 1959
My Dear Harvin and Terry -
Seems like you boys have gotten way off the reservation but I guess good politicians do what they have to do. With that said, I'm terribly disappointed in both of you. No doubt many more are not; lest you would have ignored these silly little mascot comments which are an inane extension of the tiresome culture wars in which our nation finds itself.
I guess it's time for a presidential executive order to outlaw the game of Cowboys and Indians as well...
I've attached a little piece [here] written for the 50th Reunion of the class of 1959. Both of you might take a moment and check it out.
I'll always be a proud Lamar Redskin or Lamar Indian. I always thought Big Red was strong willed, mean if you have to be, warpath whoopin', scalp takin', radical "bad".
I still believe that you both give great leadership to an impossibly contrived School District replete with its Single Member "regionalized" board. And...for what it's worth...I'll be with you both...just not on this one.
My Best -
PS: You might start girding yourselves for the onslaught from the Animal Rights groups which, when brought to their attention by some social busybody, will almost certainly take offense at the insensitivity of using Purple Pups and Pandas to show affection for Lanier and Pershing. Just imagine having to defend that one :) Probably best to preemptively change
their names to "amoebas" and "euglinas" - they'll then have single cell mascots: Surely no one could object to that. JH
Jon H. Fleming
POST OFFICE DRAWER 38
NORTH ZULCH, TEXAS 77872
Comments on Jon Hugh's message from some of his '59 Classmates:
Bravo Jon. Thank you for speaking out on our behalf. You are the best! - Maria Burke Butler
Agreed, Jon: ) Thanks for being my Aaron, though I am definitely NOT Moses. (Exodus 4:10-15) Please keep talking sense with a kind heart, - Ann Knickerbocker McCulloch
Right on target as you always are. I am now concerned that the commonly used names of my two universities, Texas A&M and the University of Texas, the Aggies and Longhorns respectively will be in jeopardy. You know the term “Aggies” could be taken as a slight to farmers and “Longhorns” certainly will be taken as an affront to the animal rights groups. Just wondering what names the political correctness folks will choose for us. Heaven forbid. - Ross Margraves
Thanks Jon Hugh for putting into words what most (if not all) of the Class of 1959 Lamar Redskins feel --- well said! - Rick McDowell
Thanks Jon -
You know, I wonder if the majority of "real" native Americans really worried about a bunch of non-native American high school kids essentially honoring them by designating a native American as their mascot. Especially when, I believe, most of us thought of the Indian model as one who was brave, strong, loyal, wise, eco-friendly before there was such a word, and honorable. It NEVER had a derogative connotation to me. Ever!
Maybe I better just stop here. - Brooks Nolan
I just think it's sad that with all the real problems in education, they chose school mascots rather than dealing with difficult issues. - Barbara Curtis
My dear friend Jon and my fellow Lamar ’59 class mates for whom I have great respect and affection,
I come late to the recent conversation about our Lamar High school imagery as I have only recently returned from a few weeks in Northern New Mexico where I have also spent parts of the last four summers. During my time there I visited numerous Native American (Indian) Pueblos (Reservations), I enjoyed dinners in homes there and I have gotten to know some really very solid people including a young man at the Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World heritage Site, who is on track to attend the Naval Academy next year. I could not bring myself to think of any of these persons as “Redskins” or as a people that I recognize in any of Lamar’s cartoon representations of Native Americans. Nor would I think of teaching my grand child who was with me to be anything but respectful of Native Americans and their history.
I read that Lamar’s 1950’s mascot Big Red representing a larger than life Native American with exaggerated facial features and cartoonish pose is thought of as, “Strong willed, mean if you have to be, warpath whoopin’, scalp takin’, and radical bad” and that our High School identifies itself using the historically demeaning term ‘Redskin’. We should seriously consider whether what we thought appropriate in the mid 20thcentury remains appropriate for the mid 21st century.
The world has changed since we were a segregated high school in the 1950s where essentially everyone was like everyone else. At Lamar we are now a multi racial, multi ethnic, multi denominational, multi national student body for which slogans with historically demeaning nick names based on skin color and a racial minority mascot with exaggerated facial features cannot be our best face to the world. If it is I know that there is a good chance that one day your grand or great grandchild will come to you and say something like, “ Grand dad, at Lamar I have friends who are African American, Asian American, Persian and Arab American , Indian American, Native American, Anglo American and Hispanic American many of whom are either Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or ‘other’ and you chose as the school’s slogan a derogatory name based on the color of a person’s skin?” “Grand dad, what were you thinking?”
I suggest that we 20th century ‘59ers remember our high school days with nostalgic feelings and that we were once Lamar redskins but recognize that in the 21st century change happens and all of our lamentations will not alter that path. This may not be all bad. Change in the 21stcentury has already brought UT and A&M Black head football coaches not because of notions of political correctness but because we want to win some football games. We were only about ten years away from the end of WWII when we entered Lamar and now about fifty four years have passed since we graduated. Our world is a very different place from those days but this is the world in which we now live.
Sincerely, Vic Driscoll
Memories and Exceptionalism: The Lamar Class of 1959The Class held a memorial for Reed Robinson on 4 August 2015; details are here. The following note was received by Larry Hitt from Classmate Bob Winegar upon Bob's learning of the passing of Reed Robinson, June, 2015:
thanks, we will get more bad news at regular intervals now. much as i hate to know it, i do want to know. as to Reed, i didn’t know him closely, but we did know each other and i liked and respected him. also see other familiar names in this chain. besides you there’s don grimes. one reunion we spent about 3 hours sitting outside, just relaxing and sharing old stories. i recall bain williams was with us.
Redskins ’59 becomes more exceptional to me all the time. while we were in school i just assumed every high school class was like that. now of course we all know what an exceptional group that was. also have fond memories of sherry (and lynn), tom stults, and chris black. i think we (selected rabble and me) did the very first tree TP job ever, on sherry in 1957. i bought the roll in a 7-11 (u-tote-em, etc) for a dime, no tax. i have similar, though less dramatic, memories of all of the above.
soriero, kenny hardin and i went to a tent meeting (after playland park) on south main, A.A. Allen (later from miracle valley, AZ) was the evangelist. we sat in back. i remembered this also later when i saw the movie popeye. what a collection of strange folks were there. we got all our pennies together, (after playland quite a pile), and tommy took them up for an offering. not long after, Allen pointed our way in this huge tent and said “people, there’s demons behind you!” they all (maybe a thousand or two?) turned and looked at us and of course we got the hell out of there, muy rapido.
a few short tales of the others also. it WAS exceptional, and will likely never be like that for any group, anywhere, ever again. how very fortunate we are to have been in that group! have had previous such messages from don cook. trust he remains well? wish girls kept their maiden names. i don’t always know the current last names. we had a truly amazing group of ladies for sure. women are just not that beautiful these days. and it always amazes me when i hear of someone’s horrible high school days. they were wonderful to me. shut up bob time. be well all, enjoy. bob
Do you remember these? Larry Hitt says,
loved those little history books! How better to learn about Cabeza de
Vaca, LaSalle and Jean Lafitte, the pirate that frequented Galveston.
Those books brought Texas history to life! You’ll enjoy this blog
Thanks for bringing back those memories.
Jon Hugh Fleming recalls,
"I don't think we had those booklets at Lanier. It must have been a PPP (Pershing Panda Propaganda). I had Mrs Jewell Doyen for Texas History in 8th grade at Lanier. Ended up a history major at SMU."
|Now Available - the History of Lamar HS|
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