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Article calls STH football players, and students, "ignorant" about Strom Thurmond, history

A Column by the Editor
web posted July 23, 2007
COLUMN – Several readers sent me links to an article in The State on Sunday by Kent Babb titled “What’s in a name”. Before I got 100 words into the piece I could see where it was going, a thinly veiled call for blacks to rise up and do away with the name “Rebels” at Strom Thurmond High School, and before it is over – probably the school’s namesake Strom Thurmond. The article quotes SC NAACP President Lonnie Randolph comparing Sen. Strom Thurmond with Adolf Hitler. Aside from the fervent racial rantings of Randolph that peppered the article, Babb also has errors that have to be corrected.

In the article the “one raging debate” on the Rebel mascot is said to have just appeared in the annual in 2003. There supposedly came an implied mass of letters and complaints about the little cartoon Col. Reb on each page at the bottom corner less than a half an inch tall.

Wrong, there were two main people that brought the matter to the school board; Rev Griffin, Edgefield County NAACP President, and Nathaniel Jackson. I believe they eventually enlisted well-known race baiting letter to the editor writer Tunk Martin to the cause.

During the “debate” the mascot on the pages was the brainchild of the black editor of the annual staff and was voted on by the entire staff. It was black and white students that rallied
and refused to go to classes in protest the day of the school board vote to do away with the “little Rebel man”. They held signs that read "boot the school board, not our mascot" and other similar slogans.

A majority of those who stood at the school board meeting later that night defending the mascot were black. The article by Babb never mentions those facts. He could be ignorant of them or purposefully left them out.

The article quotes a couple of Strom Thurmond Rebel football players who flat out state they want to be Rebels and want no part of a change. It then goes on, with the many quotes from Randolph, telling our fine students at STH that they are stupid. After all these black students, according to Randolph, “are taught a “sanitized, purely white” version of history, which prevents them from forming rounded opinions on some individuals, including Strom Thurmond.”

Say what you will about Strom Thurmond, but he obviously liked blacks a lot more than other people did at the time because he fathered a child with a black woman.

Not to mention the last time I checked, the majority of the school board that runs the educational system in Edgefield County was then, and is now, black. Now, if he wants to call the majority of our school board out for being ignorant and promoting ignorance in our school system he will not hear an argument from me. But to conveniently leave out that fact those in control are blacks is a bit questionable.

After interviewing a single white coach, but no other student, teacher, or administrator for the article Babb begins his closing with this statement. “There is only a sign that welcomes visitors to the home of the “Fighting Rebels,” a name that means everything to some ... but appears to mean little to those who play on Friday nights.”

I’m sorry, but if that one statement, after he interviewed black players stating they wanted no change in the name, does not prove Babb is ignorant on top of being racially motivated, nothing does. Blacks and whites in Edgefield County, players, students, teachers, administrators in the district, and many others are all proud to be Rebels.

It is a term that means the same to all, black and white in Edgefield County. A band of brothers that is willing to rise up and defeat an opposing force that is trying to tyrannize them. Be it on the football field or in life.

I am going to have to ask around and see in Babb has been attending services with School Board chairwoman Sallie Cooks and board member James Bibbs recently.

The "Sports Story" can be found online here.

Send your Comments to the Wandering Minds to have them published.

Editor’s note: The Editor is a 1980 graduate of Strom Thurmond High School and also served on the school board committee of citizens appointed by the board members to find a new mascot. The committee voted to keep the Col. Reb. The school board dismissed the recommendation of the majority black committee and chose instead to place a coon dog as the mascot in 2003.


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