Follows lead of City, Concord Historical Society
Irony: only a British encyclopedia website offers the historical origin of the name of both the city and school
Contact school board members to reconsider their vote, or vote out two of them, next year
By Allen D. Payton
This past week, the Mt. Diablo Unified School Board voted 4-1 to change the name of the mascot for Concord High School from the Minutemen to the Bears, supposedly in response to a request by students, which is in dispute. According to a news report by The Pioneer, the change has many people upset including some students who say they weren’t asked during the process, as well as alumni.
“Several alumni spoke before the board vote, all in opposition to the change. One of those speakers mentioned that of 2,400 comments on the issue in an online forum there was not one comment in favor of the change.” Board members took “the action in order to make the school ‘more welcoming and inclusive’ to its students”, according to The Pioneer’s report.
According to USHistory.org, “Minutemen were a small hand-picked elite force which were required to be highly mobile and able to assemble quickly. Minutemen were selected from militia muster rolls by their commanding officers. Typically, 25 years of age or younger, they were chosen for their enthusiasm, reliability, and physical strength. Usually about one quarter of the militia served as Minutemen, performing additional duties as such. The Minutemen were the first armed militia to arrive or await a battle. By the time of the Revolution, Minutemen had been a well-trained force for six generations.”
They sound like pretty good examples for students at any school or any American to follow – elite, prepared, ready, responsive, enthusiastic, reliable, with physical strength and the first to arrive.
According to the staff report for the board meeting agenda item, “Concord High School, through the New Mascot Student Committee, is requesting the review and approval of a mascot change at Concord High School. The Student Body has conducted multiple petitions, town hall meetings, as well as conducted multiple rounds of student discussions and voting over several months, involving all stakeholders of the Concord High School community including students, alumni and staff. As a result of the discussions and multiple rounds of student voting, the Concord High School community has selected the mascot name ‘The Bears’ to replace the name ‘Minutemen’ as presented to the Board on May 10, 2023 and June 28, 2023.”
Supposedly, one of the reasons is because the “Latinx” students (the “woke” term they were referred to during the board meeting even though most Hispanic or Latino Americans don’t use that term to describe themselves) which make up the majority of the student body don’t share that culture.
The Pioneer article shares more about the decision. School Board Area 4 Trustee Cherise “Khaund said, ‘The Mt. Diablo Unified School District Governing Board is committed to providing equal opportunity for all individuals in education. We as a school district should listen carefully to student concerns, especially if they feel unwelcome or unsafe on our campuses.’ She also pointed to MDUSD board policy 0410 which states that ‘District programs and activities shall also be free of any racially derogatory or discriminatory school or athletic team names, mascots, or nicknames.’”
How is the Minutemen mascot racially derogatory or discriminatory? Because it refers to only men? Seriously? The women didn’t fight in the militia during the Revolutionary War in the 1770’s. How ignorant of history do you have to be to not understand that fact? How patronizing and actually racist to assume Latino students aren’t aware of or know the history of our country, or that it’s not part of their “culture”? If that’s truly the case, then work to make it part of their culture. Why do you think their ancestors who weren’t born here, came to this country? For the freedoms won during the Revolutionary War and the opportunities they afford.
Interestingly enough, girls in the school’s marching band wear the same three-cornered hat and uniform as the boys do.
How do any students feel “unwelcome or unsafe” with the Minutemen mascot? Nobody on any of the school’s sports teams, cheerleading squads, in the band nor any faculty or staff member actually carries a real musket or any other gun on the campus. Do they? Of course, not. (Well, maybe security personnel do. But that’s doubtful.)
Name Change Originated with Teachers, Not Students
Yet, while explaining the history of both the original name and its change, The Pioneer claims the proposal for a new mascot came from teachers not students.
“The name Minutemen was chosen as the mascot when the school opened in 1966 in honor of the men who formed the Minutemen militia in Concord, Massachusetts as the American Revolution was beginning in 1775,” the report reads. “The Pioneer first spoke to former Concord High principal Rianne Pfaltzgraff during the 2020-21 school year when she stated she had a discussion with some of her teachers when the idea was brought up that ‘Minutemen’ refers to only one gender and the symbol holding a rifle is not reflective of the school in the third decade of the 21st Century. At that time, it was not mentioned that students had brought the issue forward.”
Board Votes Switch from 2-2 to 4-1
The board vote on June 28 to change the mascot name failed on a two-two tie with Trustee Khaund absent. But then with her in attendance at the board meeting on August 16 and Area 2 Trustee Linda Mayo flip-flopping, the mascot name change passed 4-1.
Decision Ignores and Attempts to Erase U.S. History
Whatever the reasons, the fact is the decision completely ignores our nation’s undisputed history.
It also shows the board’s disinterest in actually educating the students who attend the school about the rich history of the name of both the city in which it is located and the school itself, as well as what the Minutemen signify in the history of our nation, as shared by The Pioneer. They helped us win our freedom from the King of England and beat the British troops in the Revolutionary War! Hello?
Heaven forbid the Minutemen carried guns. Well, what do you think helped them fight and win the war? What do you think helped all of our military men and women fight and defeat the enemies in all the wars we’ve ever won? Guns! It was accomplished by bearing arms, as it’s written in the Second Amendment of the 10 Bill of Rights to the Constitution – another historical fact that should be taught to high school students. (I hope it still is during U.S. History classes in both 8th and 11th grades). That amendment mentions the militia as it reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Another interesting fact is the Drum Major of the Concord High Marching Band carries a replica of a musket while leading the band – even as of last year while in a parade at Disneyland.
Even today’s Army National Guard logo is of a Minuteman.
The School Board is Not Alone, Ironic Source for Name Origin
Yet, the school board is not alone in ignoring and even appearing to bury and hide the history of the origin of the name of both the city and school. The most ironic thing about this entire matter is, you have to find the origin of the name Concord, California on a British encyclopedia website. No joke!
On Britannica.com about Concord, California it reads, “the city was renamed in 1869 for Concord, Massachusetts.” For those who don’t remember their U.S. History classes, as The Pioneer reported, that was the city where the American Revolution began. (I learned as an adult after I bought a set, that the Encyclopedia Britannica is written from a British perspective, and at that time didn’t even include Niagra Falls as something important to Americans, while the Encyclopedia Americana is written from an American perspective).
But you won’t find that origin fact on the History page of the City’s website, the Concord Historical Society’s website nor even on the Wikipedia page about the city. The City’s website only provides links to other websites without mentioning anything about the city’s history. On the historical society’s concordhistory.com website’s chronology page, under the section entitled, “1860’s: Todos Santos Town Established”, it merely reads, “Name ‘Concord’ is used immediately by new settlers to re-identify town of Todos Santos.” On the Early History page it reads, “Within months after Todos Santos has been recorded as the official name, CONCORD was heralded by the Contra Costa Gazette as the actual name. In an article dated April 17, 1869, the paper, published in Pacheco town, congratulated the residents of Concord for adopting such a meaningful name for their new village. They highlighted the harmonious spirit and euphony of this fine name.” But there’s no mention of the origin of the name nor why it was so “meaningful”.
Concord Massachusetts Location of “Shot Heard Round the World”
Also, for an additional history reminder, it was during the battles of Concord and Lexington, Mass. on April 19, 1775, where the opening shot, referred to as the “shot heard round the world”, sparked the American Revolutionary War.
In fact, in Concord, Mass. is The Minute Man statue by Daniel Chester French erected in 1875 and located in Minute Man National Historical Park, which looks a lot like the Concord High Minutemen mascot.
Board Spending $200K on Name Change
Oh, one more thing. The board is literally going to spend, actually waste, $200,000 of taxpayer money on the mascot name change at a time those funds could be spent in the classroom to actually help students obtain a better education – and maybe learn some U.S. history. The three-corrnered hats worn by the marching band members will have to be replaced, as they represent the hats worn by the Minutemen during the Revolutionary War. (That’s the same type of hat I wore as part of the uniform for the band I was a member of during my first semester in high school – the Marching Patriots of Patrick Henry High School in San Diego. As of last year, in front of the school, the mascot could still be seen wearing the three-cornered hat and – surprise – holding a musket with even a bayonet attached! Oh, and a painting of the American flag on the front wall could also be seen. Hope that doesn’t offend the four school members’ delicate sensibilities).
Their action follows the cancel culture decisions in professional sports to rename teams that some oversensitive people have found offensive – usually on behalf of others, such as the Washington Redskins to the Commanders. Guess what? Now, a group of Native Americans are petitioning to get the name changed back because they believe it honors rather than degrades them and promotes their history.
School Board Must Reconsider Their Vote
The board must reconsider its vote and spend the $200,000 educating the students at Concord High on the history of the school’s and city’s name and of our nation, and how the Minutemen played a significant role in obtaining the freedoms we enjoy, today – including property ownership and representative government in our constitutional republic.
If not, then Mt. Diablo School district voters need to replace the four who voted for this foolishness and who are failing their students by not educating them properly. Shame on those board members, especially the one who changed her vote, Trustee Mayo who caved between the meetings of June 28 and August 16, for some reason. Kudos to the one board member, Area 1 Trustee Debra Mason, who used wisdom and demonstrated having a backbone to stand up for common sense by voting both times against the change. (By the way, Common Sense is the name of the pamphlet published in 1775 by Thomas Paine, one of our nation’s Founding Fathers, that sparked the American Revolution, as it argued that the colonists had a natural right to self-government and independence from the British monarchy. Perhaps the $200,000 should be spent buying copies of that and distributed to the Concord High School students each year during their American History classes!)
Oh, and how do I know this information about U.S. history? Because I’m a graduate of Northgate High School in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, where I attended the U.S. History class in my junior year (as required for graduation) taught by a great teacher, actually did my homework and learned the subject matter!
Two Trustees Who Twice Supported Change Face Re-Election Next Year
Seriously, voters in the district, there are only two trustees, who voted for the change both times, that are up for re-election, next year when their terms expire: Board President and Area 3 Trustee Keisha Nzewi and Board Vice President and Area 5 Trustee Erin McFerrin. If they don’t reconsider their vote and change the mascot name back, it’s indicative they don’t care about our nation’s history, the history of the City’s and school’s name nor about educating the students in your district and specifically, at Concord High, about it all. Take back your government from the foolish, wasteful, weak leaders who are contributing to the dumbing down of the education system in the largest school district in Contra Costa County. Just maybe, this latest decision will serve as a lightning rod to wake people up, get them to take action and change things for the better for our future and the benefit of our youth.
Here’s how to contact each of the five trustees by email:
Board President & Area 3 Trustee Keisha Nzewi, Term expires 2024 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President & Area 5 Trustee Erin McFerrin, Term expires 2024 – email@example.com
Area 1 Trustee Debra Mason, Term expires 2026 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Area 2 Trustee Linda Mayo, Term expires 2026 – email@example.com
Area 4 Trustee Cherise Khaund, Term expires 2026 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Historical Society, City Must Stop Hiding History and Origin of Their Name
One final thing, to the Concord Historical Society, you really need to add the fact of the origin of the city’s name to your website and the Concord History website, and don’t make it so difficult to find; and to the City of Concord council members and staff, you should actually provide some history about your city on the history page of your website.