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Evergreen trees may not be wholesome enough for Ida B. Wells-Barnett High School in Portland, Ore. So the school has delayed its plan to change the nickname to the “Evergreens” after a board director cited potential community concerns.
“I’m wondering if there was any concern with the imagery there, in using a tree … as our mascot?” Portland Public Schools Board of Education Director Michelle DePass asked at a board meeting, via the Portland Tribune.
The school fears that evergreen trees can be viewed as being tied to lynchings.
But one of the board members, Martin Osborne, indicated DePass’ concerns were very much a reach.
“We did talk about it, but we were looking at the symbolism more as a tree of life than a tree of death,” Osborne said.
Osborne, who is black, added that the proposed nickname “had nothing to do with the horrible history of lynching in the United States. Lynching trees typically are not evergreens.”
Ida B. Wells-Barnett is named after a black reporter and activist who documented lynching. The school had previously been known as the “Trojans.”
At any rate, DePass suggested the school board reach out to Wells-Barnett’s family before approving the “Evergreens” nickname ahead of the next board meeting and rescheduled vote.