ANAHEIM (CBSLA) — A rebellion against Johnny Rebel?
As KCAL9/CBS2’s Michele Gile reports, some students and parents want Savanna High School in Anaheim to get rid of the mascot — Johnny Rebel, a Confederate soldier.
“In my family we’ve all been Rebels — my mother was a rebel, my aunts, uncles and cousins,” said student Jocelyn Perez.
The history of Johnny Rebel, the Confederate soldier mascot at Savanna and the debate over whether to get rid of it has become a campus-wide civics lesson.
“Someone who doesn’t like black people. He doesn’t like them at all. Doesn’t want them in the country,” said Savanna senior Matthew Thomas.
Thomas, his brother, father and a few other students brought their concerns to the Anaheim Union High School board which will vote next month on the fate of the Rebels mascot.
“They could have made their own decision right there at this time without listening to students but they wanted to get student input,” said Superintendent Michael Matsuda.
So, for the past few weeks, history teachers have guided students through lessons on the controversy surrounding Johnny Rebel, researching slavery and the Confederacy while focusing on awareness and understanding.
“I think that we are putting them in a position to be confident to have a conversation about it as opposed to having an argument about it,” said a Savanna teacher.
One of the options before the school board is to rebrand the mascot and/or logo. Something Perez wants.
I think that Rebels isn’t the problem I think that the Johnny Rebel that people keep referring to is and that’s not what the school is about,” said Perez.
It needs to be gone, says local minister and Savanna father Dion Thomas.
A few years ago a deteriorating Confederate soldier statue on campus was removed, so now it’s time to change the mascot he says.
“Johnny Rebel is everywhere,” said Thomas. “It’s on their uniforms. The Confederate soldier is on their uniforms. It’s on their cheer uniforms. It’s on their T-shirts. It’s everywhere.”
Some of the students are expected at the November school board meeting and are expected to address the board. A decision on the mascot could come as early as Nov. 2.