PAW PAW, Mich. — Monday night, the school board at Paw Paw Public Schools voted 6-1 to retire the Redskins mascot and remove the imagery from their schools.
Linda Cypret-Kilbourne was shocked, she said.
“I really haven’t had a chance to really react yet,” she said during an interview with FOX 17 on Tuesday. “It’s kind of all overwhelming.”
Cypret-Kilbourne, who’s an activist with the Michigan Coalition Against Racism in Sports & Media, said redskin is a word she hates saying.
She said it has a violent history and she’s glad others found it as offensive as she does.
“I’m really glad that the Paw Paw School Board and the Superintendent has stepped forward and become trailblazers for the community,” Cypret-Kilbourne said. “Done a good thing for its students.”
Superintendent Rick Reo said in a previous interview with FOX 17 that he intended to get rid of the mascot because it was causing division among students and he felt that it created an “unwelcoming environment.”
“They don’t realize that when they leave their own community, they’re coming out into other people’s communities,” Cypret-Kilbourne said about the redskins mascot. “And when they do that they do offend other people. Other students are affected by it.”
Reo wrote about his then proposal in the school student newspaper, which he later presented at a community-only meeting on March 3.
Days later the board voted to retire it.
Reo released a statement in part saying:
“I believe that this decision will better enable us to carry out our mission as a school district. Individuals on both sides of this issue agree that it has people in the community divided, and we must come together in our support for all students to be able to best meet our goals. I hope that the retirement of the Redskin nickname will help us become a more unified school district as we continue to develop, support, challenge, and inspire every child for lifelong success.”
He also stated that in the next few days a committee of students and staff will be formed to begin the search for their next mascot.
“I think it’s going to be a wonderful thing and it’s going to take time and transition,” Cypret-Kilbourne said. “But in the end I think it’s going to be a better move for Paw Paw. And, eventually they’re going to see that.”