What changed in 2020 because of Black Lives Matter: Flags, statues, and sports teams faced a racial reckoning
- The Cleveland Indians are set to have their name changed for the first time in 105 years after indigenous groups called for them to stop using the racist term and months of internal discussions.
- The team's owner, Paul Dolan, told the Associated Press that "the name is no longer acceptable in our world."
- It is the latest example of changes made this year after 2020 became the year of racial reckoning following the George Floyd murder in May and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests.
- Bands and brands have changed their names to reflect the new consciousness about the US's racist past, including the history of slavery and segregation, and the oppression, displacement, and dismal treatment of indigenous people.
- Statues that celebrated the Confederacy have been removed and states' flags have been re-designed.
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The Cleveland Indians are set to have their name changed for the first time in 105 years following months of internal discussions and meetings with indigenous groups, who called for the team to stop using the term 'Indians, ' which many considered racist.
The team's owner, Paul Dolan, told the Associated Press that "the name is no longer acceptable in our world," but added that the team would not using a temporary name while choosing a new one.
It was the latest example of changes made this year after 2020 became the year of racial reckoning following the George Floyd murder in May and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests.
From Boston to Berkley, scroll down to see the rapidly growing list of brands, bands, and buildings that have changed names, statues that have been removed, and flags that changed, in the last 12 months.
A statue of Former President Abraham Lincoln holding his hand over a kneeling slave in Boston has been dismantled.
The Black man kneeling at Lincoln's feet was modeled on Archer Alexander, a heroic slave who aided the Union during the Civil War.
The statue stood in Boston's Park Square since 1879.
"The decision for removal acknowledged the statue's role in perpetuating harmful prejudices and obscuring the role of Black Americans in shaping the nation's freedoms," a statement from the city's mayor's office read, according to NPR.
Mississippi removes the Confederate emblem on its flag.
Mississippi was the last state to still have a Confederate emblem on its flag, dating back to 1894.
In June, the governor signed a bill to have it replaced, and a new flag design was voted for last month.
New York also banned the sale or display of Confederate flags, swastikas, and other state property symbols despite concerns that it might violate freedom of speech and be unconstitutional.
According to CBS News, Governor Andrew Cuomo said: "This country faces a pervasive, growing attitude of intolerance and hate — what I have referred to in the body politic as an American cancer.
"This bill will help safeguard New Yorkers from the fear-instilling effects of these abhorrent symbols," he added in his memo.
Sources: Mississippi Clarion-Ledger, NBC News, CBS News
The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations will be shortened to the State of Rhode Island.
The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations is set to have its name shortened following a referendum last month.
It followed an online petition that received over 10,000 signatures, and Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order calling for the state constitution to rename Rhode Island in June.
She tweeted: "Our work to dismantle systemic racism in Rhode Island did not start today and it will not end today, but we can rise together and make meaningful progress toward racial equity now.
The state's full name dates back to the 17th century when Puritan Minister, Roger Williams, founded plantations on the Providence River, which became the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations before we came to know it as today.
The name shortening was voted for by 52.9% of residents despite only 22% of voters supporting the cause in a 2010 referendum.
Source: NBC News
The Dixie Chicks renamed themselves The Chicks.
Country band, The Dixie Chicks renamed themselves The Chicks in June during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests. It came alongside the release of their new song, March March, and its music video, which features the names of Black victims of police brutality.
They have previously come under fire for making a statement that criticized former President George W. Bush and his decision to invade Iraq, causing their popularity among mostly right-wing country music fans to decline, with some even burning their CDs quickly.
'Dixie' was a term used to refer to southern US states during slavery because of the Mason-Dixon Line, which separated those free and those enslaved at the time and was also the name of a blackface minstrel character dating back to the 1850s. Then in the 1940s, it was adopted by the Dixiecrats or The States' Rights Democratic, a right-wing segregationist party primarily active in the south.
Dixie was also the name of a song sung by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The same song was part of the 1915 Birth of a Nation's score, which helped revive the KKK. In the 1950s, it was sung by white women protesting against integration in schools.
In Utah, Dixie State University will also have its name changed following a unanimous vote by the Utah Board of Higher Education. The college has previously removed a statue called 'The Rebels' featuring a Confederate soldier holding a Confederate flag on a horse. It also replaced the university's mascot, Rebel to Red Storm and then to Trailblazers, named after Samuel Brooks, the college's first student who slept on the steps outside waiting for it to open.
Sources: NPR, Dixie State University, The Atlantic, Distracitfy, 11 Alive
Lady Antebellum rebranded themselves as Lady A.
In a Twitter statement published in June, the band said: "We are regretful and embarrassed to say that we did not take into the account the associations that weight down this word referencing to the period of history before the Civil War, which includes slavery. We are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen, or undervalued."
They have since been engaged in a feud with 61-year-old blues singer Lady A, who has been using the name professionally for 20 years. The band filed a lawsuit against Anita White at District Court in Tennessee to allow them to use the name, saying that they hold the federal trademarks while the singer doesn't.
White pointed out the irony in the band changing their name to highlight racial inequality and taking from a Black woman.
She told Rolling Stone: "It shouldn't have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it. It's an opportunity for them to pretend they're not racist or pretend this means something to them."
Source: Rolling Stone
The Grammys also announced that they would no longer use the word "urban" to describe music of Black origin.
The Recording Academy said it would rename the award for "Best Urban Contemporary Album" to "Best Progressive R&B album," according to the BBC.
Its word choice had been previously criticized by several musical artists, including rapper Tyler, the Creator, who won of best rap album at the 2020 Grammys and told reporters at the ceremony: "I don't like that 'urban' word — it's just a politically correct way to say the N-word to me. Why can't we just be in pop?"
Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben's were both rebranded.
The food and drink brands Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben's were both rebranded in June after concerns from the Black community.
The 130-year-old Aunt Jemima brand is based on a minstrel character and once featured former slave Nancy Green's face on its packaging. In a statement released on June 17 and seen by NBC News, its parent company, Quaker Oats, said that it recognizes that "Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype."
Later that day, Mars Inc. also said that they would be evolving the Uncle Ben's brand after critics pointed out that the terms 'Auntie' and 'Uncle' were often used by white people to refer to Black people during the Jim Crow era to avoid the honorific titles 'Mr.' and 'Mrs.'
In a statement also seen by NBC News, it said: "We know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices. We know to make the systemic change needed, it's going to take a collective effort from all of us — individuals, communities, and organizations of all sizes around the world."
Sources: NBC News, Forbes
Johnson & Johnson announced it would stop selling products that had been used by some people to lighten their skin tone.
The products were advertised as dark-spot reducers, but have been used by many people to brighten their skin color. They were predominantly sold in Asia and the Middle East.
In a statement, the company wrote: "Conversations over the past few weeks highlighted that some product names or claims on our Neutrogena and Clean & Clear dark-spot reducer products represent fairness or white as better than your own unique skin tone."
"This was never our intention — healthy skin is beautiful skin."
Statues of the Confederate General Stonewall Jackson were also removed.
Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's statue was removed from Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.
Jackson is considered one of the most successful generals during the American Civil War but also owned six slaves.
For years, there have been calls for the removal of his statues, particularly from in front of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia, where he was once a professor.
Although the institute has previously been reluctant to remove the statue, it finally was last month.
Sources: NPR, National Geographic, The Washington Post
At least 33 statues of Christopher Columbus have been removed or are in the process of being removed.
At least 33 statues of Christopher Columbus have been removed or are being removed following the BLM movement.
In St Paul, Minnesota, the state in which George Floyd was murdered, protesters toppled the statue in front of the state capitol.
Although Columbus is credited with discovering America, indigenous people had been living there for some 15,000 years.
He also enslaved and killed thousands of indigenous people in the Caribbean and South America during his four voyages.
Sources: CBS News, Smithsonian Magazine
The Woodrow Wilson family home changed its name.
Woodrow Wilson served as US President between 1913 to 1921. His childhood home in Columbia, South Carolina, was formerly called the Woodrow Wilson Family Home but has now been renamed The Museum of Reconstruction Era at the Woodrow Wilson Home.
Wilson lived there as a teenager between 1871 to 1875, during the Reconstruction era, a period after the civil war which lasted between 1865 to 1977 and was characterized by severe laws against Black people adopted by southern states to prevent potential uprisings.
His name was also removed from Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs. University President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a statement: "Wilson's racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time."
Sources: Historic Columbia, The Post and Courier, Princeton University
The University of California, Berkeley, renames buildings.
The University of California, Berkeley, renamed various buildings this year, including LeConte Hall and Barrows Hall last month.
LeConte was named after brothers John and Joseph LeConte, who came to Berkeley in 1869 from a Southern slave-holding family, served in the Confederacy, and promoted racist ideals.
Barrows was named after the University of California's former President David Prescott Barrows, who said that "the white, or European, race is, above all others, the great historical race."
In a statement, Chair of the Building Name Review Committee and Integrative biology professor Paul Fine said: "A truly welcoming institution requires a real investment in making substantive changes to systemic racism, to institutional racism."
Source: UC Berkeley
Kansas City Chiefs ban headdresses or indigenous-style face paint.
In August, the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs said that fans would no longer be allowed to wear ceremonial headdresses or indigenous-style face paint at the team's Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
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