The Washington Redskins continued scrubbing traces of team founder George Preston Marshall from the franchise on Wednesday, removing the segregationist from the Ring of Fame at FedEx Field and taking his name off the team’s history wall in Ashburn, Virginia.
Similar scenarios are unfolding across the country as sports teams, colleges, museums and others scramble to reconcile histories tangled with intolerance with today’s emphatic calls for a nationwide reckoning on race and racism.
In Ohio, the University of Cincinnati stripped former Reds owner Marge Schott’s name from its baseball stadium for her “record of racism and bigotry.”
In Minneapolis, the Minnesota Twins took down a statue of former owner Calvin Griffith outside their stadium for similar cause.
The Redskins, in particular, have made numerous changes since city officials removed a statue of Marshall outside of RFK Stadium last week. On Saturday, the Redskins announced they would rename “George Preston Marshall Level” at FedEx Field after Hall of Fame running back Bobby Mitchell, the team’s first Black player.
References to Marshall were also removed from the team’s history wall at Redskins Park in Ashburn and from the team’s website, a spokesman said.
Marshall, who served as the Redskins owner from 1932 until 1969, didn’t integrate his team until 1962, when pressure from the federal government finally caused him to cave.
The Kennedy administration had threatened to revoke permission to play at the Redskins’ new stadium, which was built on federal land, unless Marshall added a Black player. When Marshall’s statue was removed Friday, city officials hailed the move as an “overdue step on the road to lasting equality and justice.”
Marshall was one of 51 members in the Redskins’ Ring of Fame.
Marshall isn’t the only former owner whose racism has been re-evaluated in recent weeks.
On stripping Schott’s name from its baseball stadium Tuesday, the University of Cincinnati said the late Reds owner’s bigotry “stands at stark odds with our University’s core commitment to dignity, equity and inclusion.” Schott was suspended by MLB from 1996 to 1998 for her statements praising Adolf Hitler.
In Minnesota, the Twins tore down Griffith’s statue on the same day that Marshall’s was removed. Griffith, who moved the Washington Senators to Minnesota in 1978, once said in a speech that he made the relocation because “we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here.”
“While we acknowledge the prominent role Calvin Griffith played in our history, we cannot remain silent and continue ignoring the racist comments he made in Waseca in 1978,” the Twins said in a statement. “His disparaging words displayed a blatant intolerance and disregard for the Black community that are the antithesis of what the Minnesota Twins stand for and value.”
The Carolina Panthers earlier this month relocated a statue of former owner Jerry Richardson outside Bank of America Stadium in the “interest of public safety.” Richardson sold the team in 2018 following a scandal in which he was accused of sexual misconduct and use of a racial slur.
As a league, NASCAR banned Confederate flags from its races as a way to “inclusive and welcoming environment for all fans.”
Athletes themselves have used their platform to push for change. NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace pushed for the racing league to ban the Confederate flag before it did so.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins called for their alma mater, Clemson, to change the name of a building named after a former slave owner.
Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond said his school needed to remove a statue of former school president and Confederate general Lawrence Sullivan Ross.
For some, the Redskins’ moves to distance themselves from Marshall aren’t enough.
Washington has faced renewed pressure over its name in the wake of the social justice movement sparked by the death of George Floyd.
The Redskins have not commented about their name, though owner Dan Snyder has vowed in the past the name would “never” change.