Washington Clergy Members Join Change the Mascot Campaign
Change the Mascot’s nationwide campaign to end the use of a racial slur by Washington’s NFL team continues to grow and gain new supporters.
As USA Today reported yesterday, dozens of clergy members from the Washington, D.C. area have now joined the campaign and will speak about this moral issue from their pulpits.
The full article detailing this exciting new development is included below:
Dozens of Washington area clergy join ‘Redskins’ fight
Erik Brady, USA TODAY Sports
7:32 p.m. EDT October 23, 2013
WASHINGTON — The Oneida Indian Nation’s campaign against the Washington pro football club’s team name picked up new supporters Wednesday when more than two dozen clergy in the Washington region committed to taking the fight to their pulpits.
“Black clergy have been the conscience of America,” Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter said to a gathering of roughly 40 people on folding chairs in the basement of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ. “This is not a fight we could do by ourselves, or should do by ourselves.”
Rev. Graylan Hagler, senior minister at Plymouth church, asked for a show of hands to indicate which clergy members in attendance would be willing to preach against what he termed the “R word.” More than a dozen raised their hands. Hagler said a different dozen committed to the cause at a clergy breakfast meeting Wednesday and that all told he has commitments from roughly 100 clergy members to talk to their congregations in coming weeks.
Clergy at the afternoon meeting came from a range of churches including AME, Baptist and United Church of Christ and from as far north as Baltimore and as far south as Fredericksburg, Va.
“Collectively, we’re speaking to thousands of people every week,” Hagler told them. He has been speaking out against the team name for more than 20 years. The Oneidas said they learned of Hagler from a story in USA TODAY Sports this month and reached out to him to strategize on ways to get their message out to faith communities.
The Oneidas, who expect to meet with representatives from the NFL to talk about the issue next month, have emerged as a key pressure group in the controversy over the team name. They operate a Change the Mascot campaign that includes a website and a series of radio ads. Between Wednesday’s morning and afternoon meetings, Halbritter met with U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum and Eleanor Holmes Norton on Capitol Hill.
Suzan Shown Harjo, who has led the fight against the team name for decades, received a standing ovation at the afternoon meeting. She said team mascots tend to be “wild animals, the occasional lug nut and slug, and then us. And that hurts our children.”
Hagler urged clergy members to gather petitions at their churches to send to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Washington team owner Daniel Snyder.
“The derogatory term ‘redskin’ offends many Native Americans and others in this country,” the petition says in part. “This word, defined in the dictionary as a slur, should not be publicly marketed and celebrated in America, which is built on the ideals of respect and inclusion. … As representatives of our faith communities, we believe that this is a moral issue and we therefore have an obligation to step forward to join the Change the Mascot movement.”