My Turn: Admiration for those who spoke up for Turners Falls logo


Sunday, October 15, 2017

The issue is all but dead now, but some continue to disparage those who choose to defend and advocate the Turners Falls High School logo, so I wanted to publicly thank those who put their reputation on the line to fight for something they felt strongly about.

As an alumni of Turners Falls High School, I had no second thoughts about being pro-logo even though I understood and respected some of the counter arguments. I was greatly annoyed and offended that all those who came before — generations of Turners Falls High School students, teachers, administrators, parents, community members, sportswriters and others — were being insulted by revisionist history that painted them as clueless dumb racists for embracing the Indian image as our representative.

I feared from the start of the debate, that political correctness and pressure would win out although I hoped those with the authority to decide the fate would understand the roots of the community and appreciate the history, tradition and pride of the town and the school, especially with the overwhelming numbers of the referendum vote. Alas, (not always pretty or commendable) politics won the argument, ignoring the roots of the school’s nickname that was given to honor the past and respect the native people of the area.

And so here we are all these months later with some well-known local pro-logo advocates continuing to stand for what they believe is right and honorable, despite the attacks on their character and their motives. They represent a vast majority of the alumni and the community, even with the personal slams and often mean-spirited social media comments (and we wonder why people don’t want to get involved anymore).

Although I have no interest in publicly renewing the controversy, I wanted to openly thank those who are willing to put themselves out there — on social media, in My Turn columns, with radio interviews — going the distance with training sessions, research and other contributions to defend their stance in an effort to persuade others with a differing view that the issue was never about white privilege or overt intentional racism. The support was always about school pride and positive town history with a logo that represented pride, strength and dignity of the Indian (before the term Native American became vogue in the middle 1960s). Many alumni are proud of our school and town heritage and we are thankful for the efforts of those who speak up on our behalf and are willing to put themselves out there despite the personal cost.

It would be easier for me to stay silent on the now mostly irrelevant issue, but I wanted to remind people that we still live in a society that welcomes and needs open dialogue and that we need not personally or publicly attack those we disagree with.

Wid Perry lives in Greenfield.