As of Friday, June 19th, 2020 the Washington Redskins have decided to as well as already have taken down and completely removed their statue of George Preston Marshall from outside of RFK stadium. He was an openly racist owner in the National Football League, and in the early 1960’s he was forced to integrate his football team even though he was outspoken against that.
The Transition of the Franchise and it’s Names
Marshall was the owner of the Boston Braves / Boston Redskins / Washington Redskins franchise from 1932 when the organization was founded in the NFL up until 1969 when he died. The team was originally started as the Boston Braves in 1932. They quickly changed their name to the Boston Redskins one year later as they shared the historic Fenway Park with the Boston Red Sox. George moved the franchise to his hometown of Washington DC in 1937, and that is when they became the Washington Redskins.
The Removal of the Monument and Meaning of the Date it was Removed
The statue of the former racist owner was deconstructed and removed by Events DC who is responsible for RFK stadium in which the Washington Redskins used to play all their home games. The monument that once honored Marshall was taken down on Friday, June 19th, 2020. June 19th is a holiday known as Juneteenth which historically observes the effective end of slavery in the United States of America. Although the main reason that this decision was made was a result of the weeks long protests following the death of George Floyd as this country is attempting to make changes amongst the civil unrest and fight for equality in the United States and the World.
The Racist Behavior of George Preston Marshall
According to ESPN, “Marshall resisted efforts and pressure to integrate his roster, becoming the last NFL owner to do so in 1962. Marshall once said he would sign African American players when the Harlem Globetrotters signed white players. The Redskins were the southernmost franchise, and Marshall had their marching band play “Dixie” on the field for 23 years. The NAACP protested against Marshall at a meeting of league owners in 1957 and once picketed outside his home.”
“In the spring of 1961, Interior Secretary Stewart Udall started to apply pressure on Marshall to integrate his roster. Because the Redskins were going to begin play at D.C. Stadium on federally owned land that fall, Udall told Marshall that a 30-year lease would be revoked unless he added a black player. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle later got involved in trying to persuade Marshall to relent. That December, Marshall drafted black running back and Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis with the first pick,” the worldwide leader in sports goes on to say.
“However, it was later learned that Marshall had traded the selection to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for running back/wide receiver Bobby Mitchell, who became Washington’s first black player in 1962.”
Other Civil Rights Issues Facing the Washington Redskins
Another major issue facing the Washington Redskins is their refusal to change their name from the Redskins. The current owner of the Washington Redskins, Daniel Snyder, has been fighting criticism as well as legal actions to keep the Redskins name and logo attached to the NFL team playing under the nation’s capital. This has been on ongoing fight for quite a while now as many indigenous people or Native Americans are offended by the name Redskins, and they would like to see the franchise make the necessary changes to reflect the current time and climate that we currently live in. Only time will tell how this saga ends or continues on into the future.
Washington Redskins NFL Franchise History
“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,” says the chairman of the Events DC board of directors, Max Brown, and the president and CEO of Events DC, Greg O’Dell. “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.”
They went on to state this is an, “Overdue step on the road to lasting equality and justice. We recognize that we can do better and act now. We’ve heard from many of our stakeholders in the community, and we thank you. Allowing the memorial to remain on the RFK Campus goes against Events DC’s values of inclusion and equality and is a disturbing symbol to many in the city we serve.”
Denise Rucker Krepp tweeted: “George Preston Marshall statute at RFK is being taken down this morning. Truck just arrived to haul it away. #BlackLivesMatter”
“It’s an obstacle for us locally, but it’s also an obstacle for the federal government who leases the land to us,” the Mayor of Washington DC Muriel Bowser explained.