The Georgia NAACP has started a push to have the Effingham County High School lose the nickname “Rebels,” which the group believes is a nod to the Confederacy during the Civil War. 
Change.org screenshot

The Georgia NAACP says it’s time to end veneration of the Confederacy at a high school in southern Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The civil rights group is pressuring officials at Effingham County High School to change the school’s nickname, “Rebels,” because of its connection with the Confederacy during the Civil War.

“It’s time for the Confederate flag and the glorification of rebel culture that fought to maintain slavery and Jim Crow as an economic and social order to surrender. If we want closure on a 150-year-old chapter in American history, we must unite under the American flag as true patriots,” said Georgia NAACP President Francys Johnson, according to the AJC.

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But folks in Effingham County, located near Savannah, are putting up a fight. They’ve posted a petition on Change.org to keep the nickname. More than 7,300 supporters have signed the petition so far. They believe the nickname and flag are not racist but symbols of their Southern heritage.

Johnson noted that students display the Confederate flag on the playing field while the school band plays “Dixie.” His office issued a statement (pdf) about the negative impact of these symbols of the Confederacy.

The Savannah Morning News reported on the Tuesday showdown at the school board meeting, where both sides presented its case. According to that report, a crowd of more than 500 people attended. Many of them booed the NAACP’s speakers.

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A woman said that the civil rights organization is trying to erase history. “You want to end racism, then people like you need to stay away from places like this,” she said, according to Savannah Morning News.

The school board is expected to announce its decision at a later date.

Read more at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Savannah Morning News.