The college football rivalry between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University will no longer be referred to as the Civil War after students and alumni complained about the name’s connection to slavery, according to the Oregon State University athletics department.
The Oregon State-Oregon football matchup dates back to 1894, and was first referred to as the Civil War in 1929.
“Changing this name is overdue as it represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery,” Oregon State University President Ed Ray said. “While not intended as a reference to the actual Civil War, OSU sports competition should not provide any misconstrued reference to this divisive episode in American history. That we did not act before to change the name was a mistake. We do so now, along with other important actions to advance equal opportunity and justice for all and in recognition that Black Lives Matter.”
Oregon’s director of athletics, Rob Mullens, agreed.
“We must all recognize the power of words and symbolism associated with the Civil War,” Mullens said.
One player who supports the name change, Oregon State safety Jaydon Grant, told Oregon Live that the name needs to be changed even while admitting that it is harmless.
“I had an emotional attachment to the name being an in-state kid,” Grant said. “But then I had to practice what I have been preaching. You cannot pick and choose what areas we are going to push for change in this fight. Right is right, wrong is wrong. I know the name seems harmless, and it really is, but I applaud my university for changing the name due to its historical ties to war that had everything to do with racism.”
As a result of racial unrest across the country, activists have made a renewed effort to remove statues, monuments and references to racism, slavery or the Confederacy from public spaces, with some high-profile examples including NASCAR’s banning of the Confederate flag at races, Walmart banning the Mississippi state flag from its stores, and even The Dixie Chicks changing their name to The Chicks.