As the new school year gets underway this month, the image of the Fontana A.B. Miller High School "Rebel" is being reduced to rubble.
The Fontana Unified School District, responding to an online petition posted on change.org, has decided to cast aside the imagery associated with Miller's mascot -- a man with a giant mustache and hat -- because of its ties to the Confederacy.
For now, a large letter “M” will be the school’s symbol.
Dustin Saxton, the Miller principal, said earlier this summer that the school administration has opted to remove all images of the mascot and the phrase "Rebel Nation" from not only the campus, but anywhere else it may be seen either online or in person.
"We have also removed images of the mascot from our website and social media pages and are in the process of reviewing potential replacements to this imagery to be discussed further with our students and staff to ensure a mascot is selected that better represents who we are at A.B. Miller High School," Saxton said in an online message.
"We realize that this process may take some time as we transition to either a new mascot image or an entirely new mascot, but know that we are working hard to make it happen.”
In many parts of the country, a movement to rid public places of symbols of the Confederacy has gained traction, particularly among people who are advocating for racial justice in the wake of the death of Minnesota resident George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in May.
In her petition opposing the mascot, Adrienne Albert said that Miller's Rebel is "racist."
"When the school opened almost 30 years ago, the student body voted on what their school mascot would be, I know that many voted for the Rebel because they saw him as a sign of being rebellious, and in fact had no knowledge of what they were actually voting for," Albert wrote.
She said Miller's mascot was identical to the one used by the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and recently UNLV decided to remove its Rebel statue from its campus, which inspired Albert to urge the FUSD to take similar action.
Albert referred to a change.org petition by David Morris which was instrumental in influencing UNLV's leaders. Morris wrote:
"UNLV's current mascot, the 'Rebel' is racist and is rooted in a Confederate mythology which has no place on our campus. The mascot, originally named 'Beauregard' after the Confederate general who fired the first shots of the Civil War, presents a public image that runs counter to our core values and UNLV's mission to become the leading multicultural university in the United States. Having a mascot that is inextricably connected to a failed regime whose single aim was to preserve the institution of slavery is an embarrassment to our campus and to our community."
Albert, whose petition received support from nearly 1,200 people, said: "It is time for us to have a mascot that truly represents us all!"
Two people commented on her petition and said they agreed with her.
Dani Andrade said: "Yes, it’s time that the school becomes more representative of its diverse and hardworking student body population."
"This mascot does NOT reflect the students and teachers at A.B. Miller. Get rid of it," Denise Key said.
Later, Albert said she was pleased to learn that the school and district had responded positively to her request.
"Thank you for helping to initiate this change!" she said.