The new wave of social upheaval in the midst of recent racially charged events has caused many to spurn certain elements of local and national history. The Redskins are not immune.
In recent weeks, dozens of statues have been taken down across the United States, and dozens more await a similar fate. The wave of action comes on the heels of tense social conflict, and the public is lashing back at statues that commemorate champions of outdated and unjust moral precedents.
Much of the attention has been focused on statues of former Confederate war generals, but actions have also been taken against more modern representations of social strife. The Panthers just last week took down their statue of inaugural team owner Jerry Richardson, for controversy surrounding his own past, in regard to racial comments. And earlier today, the statue of former Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall outside of RFK Stadium was taken down as well.
The news was confirmed by Redskins ESPN beat reporter John Keim. According to Keim, Events DC, the company in charge of maintaining and managing RFK Stadium, made the decision to remove the statue of Marshall. That same company released a statement on the decision, courtesy of the company’s CEO and board of directors chairman. Here is that statement, gathered from Keim’s article:
This symbol of a person who didn’t believe all men and women were created equal and who actually worked against integration is counter to all that we as people, a city, and nation represent. We believe that injustice and inequality of all forms is reprehensible and we are firmly committed to confronting unequal treatment and working together toward healing our city and country.
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Additionally, Keim relayed that the company viewed the removal of the George Preston Marshall statue as an “overdue step” toward equality and justice, and it was also implied that the input of company shareholders was taken into account.
Marshall took part in the formation of the Washington Redskins franchise in 1932, at the age of 36. At the time, the franchise was named the Boston Braves, and was re-named the Redskins a year after inception, due in part to its locational affiliation with the Boston Red Sox. The Redskins moved to Washington D.C. in 1937, where Marshall would resume ownership until his death in 1969.
Marshall has long been the subject of criticism for his racist practices as owner, which included refusing to integrate African-Americans onto his roster in the midst of civil rights movements. Marshall was eventually forced to comply with integration by the federal government.
Just as the practices of Marshall and other former executives have come under fire in recent weeks, so too has the name of the Washington Redskins franchise itself, a name with foundations that have generated controversy. In time, the pressure to undergo a branding change could mount further.