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Franklin County woman urges school leaders to change Rebel mascot

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WINCHESTER, TN (WSMV) - A woman fighting to change the Rebel mascot at Franklin County High School believes the school board is stalling on making a decision.

Should Franklin County change the Franklin County mascot from "Rebels"

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"I'm an African-American woman. I don't feel like my mascot for the only high school in my town should be a Confederate man," Shanae Williams said.

"It's not just about the mascot, it's about what the mascot really represents. It's to tell us to stay in our place."

Williams began circulating a petition a few weeks ago to get support to remove the Rebel as the mascot of Franklin County High School and stop playing the song "Dixie" at pep rallies and football games.

Since News4 first spoke with Williams, she voiced her concerns at a Franklin County School Board meeting.

"I've got five minutes to present, and myself and my research team, we made up a 42-page document that we passed out to every board member," Williams said.

Her petition for change hasn't been without push back.

A counter petition asking to keep the Rebel mascot was also created. There are more than 1,000 signatures on it while a second counter petition now has more than 3,000 signatures.. Many feel it's a piece of the school's history and legacy.

The owner of the counter petition wrote "Removing the Franklin County High School mascot will not solve a national crisis."

One supporter said "Being a Franklin County 'Rebel' is not a crime, not a slap in the face of racial equality."

Williams had hoped a decision would be made by now.

"We made the agenda for the meeting, then they placed us on a workshop that was supposed to be held Aug. 3," Williams said. "Then we found out last week that it's going to be postponed until October."

News4 reached out to the school board to find out the status of the workshop. Director of Schools Stanley Bean responded with this statement:

"Yes we have postponed this discussion as it is very important to get it right. The October board meeting seems to be the best option at this time. I have heard both sides of the 'Dixie' issue with very strong arguments on both sides. I will not be available for a Zoom interview for several weeks. We have two new schools trying to open on time, the COVID situation which will take my time over the next several weeks. You're welcome to contact other board members. They are on the district website."

Williams said she feels like the school board is purposely stalling.

"It's definitely going to go harder, and not stop with the petition, and not give this up," Williams said. "I feel like that's what this is, a stall game, right now."

News4 made repeated attempts to reach school board members by email and phone and have not heard back from any.

Previous coverage

Woman starts petition to change Rebel mascot at Franklin County High School

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