D.C. Council may push Washington Redskins into ‘Washington Redtails’

April 30, 2013

A D.C. Council member is preparing to introduce a resolution calling on the Washington Redskins to change its name, perhaps to the Washington Redtails.

Council member David Grosso, an independent elected last year, said he plans to pursue his non-binding resolution because the current name is “a derogatory, racist name.”

“It’s been a long time that we’ve had this name associated with Washington, and I think its time we take a stand and change it,” Grosso said.

Grosso is circulating his resolution to other council members to try to get co-sponsors. So far, he said, council members Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) have agreed to sign on to it.

In recent months, as the Redskins made their run toward the playoffs, debate about the Redskins name has been heating up. Earlier this year, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said he would also like the name changed. But Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and team officials have largely avoided the debate, giving no indications that they are seriously considering such a change.

According to Grosso’s resolution, which he said he plans to formally introduce in a few weeks, the 13-member council would declare that “District residents and their elected representatives should not tolerate commercial or other use of derogatory terminology relating to any people’s racial identity, or which dishonors any person’s race, or which dishonors the name Washington.”

“Washington’s name has been dishonored by association with the word ‘Redskins,’ ” the resolution states. “Because it is well known in America and in nations afar that American Indians have experienced utmost suffering and disrespect over the years.”

Past debates about a Redskins name change have quickly become hung up on what would be an appropriate name for the team.

In his resolution, Grosso urges the team to change its name to the Washington Redtails, noting that that was the nickname used by the Tuskegee Airmen, the pioneering aviation unit that broke the color barrier for U.S. military pilots in World War II. A plane used by the airmen recently was put in a place of honor in the Smithsonian.

Grosso said a change to the Redtails would be a relatively seamless.

“You can still sing the song and everything,” said Grosso, before singing, “Hail . . . to the . . . Redtails.”

Just as importantly, Grosso said, “you can still keep the feather.”


(Alex Brandon/AP)
Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.
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