In a blog entry at The Root DC, Editor Robert E. Pierre checks in on the reason for the Washington Redskins' popularity among blacks. He says that while the team's origins are rooted in racism, blacks became more accepting after the owners signed their first black players in 1962. Many of those players became ambassadors who helped stamp out the team's racist image.
The Washington Redskins franchise gave black Washingtonians plenty of reasons to loathe them. They were marketed as the "Team of the South." The band played "Dixie," a nod to Old South nostalgia.
There was no mention, of course, of the lynchings, the Ku Klux Klan or any of that unseemly business of denial of an education and basic human rights. But there didn’t need to be. The message was clear. The Redskins were the last segregated National Football League team.
But when the team finally relented in 1962, and began signing black players, the tide began to turn. These players became the team's ambassadors who turned around the image of a franchise that didn't want or deserve the support of the region's black residents.
Fast forward 50 years and the transition is complete. A new Washington Post poll found that two-thirds of African Americans have a favorable view of the team and four in 10 feel that way "strongly." Less than half of white fans have an overall favorable view of the franchise.
Read Robert E. Pierre's entire blog entry at The Root DC.