Hundreds of mostly young people marched in North Richland Hills Tuesday, demanding the name of the Richland High School mascot be changed from “Rebels” – to just about anything else.
The Fort Worth suburb isn’t used to seeing large protests.
"It's definitely a story I'm going to tell my grandkids,” junior Nate Morcom said.
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Simara Peyton of the Class of 2020 said she and many of her friends see the Confederate name as racist.
"We love the school,” Peyton said. “I love the teachers and faculty and the students. But I don't like going there with all this going on. And people think we're racists and that's not who we are."
Activists have called on the Birdville School District to change the name for years.
But now they feel momentum like never before.
"Right now, confederate symbols are crumbling all around us,” protest organizer Ryan Murphy said.
Rev. Kyev Tatum, a longtime Fort Worth activist, also has been involved in the fight.
"Change the name, change the mascot, change all of that that divides us,” Tatum said. “What we need now are heeling symbols."
North Richland Hills police chief Jimmy Perdue told the crowd his officers were there to protect their free speech.
Police blocked off traffic on busy Rufe Snow Drive as the protesters marched.
Speaking into a bullhorn, Perdue also said he agreed that what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis was abhorrent.
"I want you to know I'm proud of all you all for what you're standing for and I stand with you in that regard," the chief said.
He also accepted an invitation from the students to kneel with them, a powerful symbol to them that those in power are listening and understand.
The Birdville School District, which has ignored pleas to change the name until now, issued a seven-word statement.
"We are thoughtfully listening to our community," it said.