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Lansing School District receives funding to change Sexton's Native American mascot

J.W. Sexton High School marquee outside the building
Mark Bashore

The Lansing School District is receiving an $87,500 grant to replace Sexton High School's Native American mascot.

Over the years, the Sexton “Big Reds” have shifted from using a logo that featured a Native American wearing a headdress to a red “S” symbol. Despite that change, the mascot’s name has remained. Now, district officials say they want to make things right.

Gabrielle Lawrence is Lansing's School Board President. She says a grant from the Native American Heritage Fund is making it easier for them to rebrand.

“We have more than 300 students of Native American descent who are enrolled in the Lansing School District," she said. "We don't want to ever be a part of creating and fostering an environment where they do not feel included.”

According to a press release from the organization, funds were granted to four different Michigan school districts to change their mascots.

"I personally am very excited to solicit community input, community involvement, especially from current students and staff at Sexton," Lawrence added. "I know this is going to be a really exciting time for the school."

With the funds received, the Lansing School District plans to continue conversations with students and staff on why the former logos and mascot were culturally insensitive.

"We do want our students to know about their heritage as Michiganders, their heritage as people who live in a state where we have a lot of Native American tribes represented," Lawrence said.

The Lansing School District is located on the ancestral lands of the Anishnabék, the Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwa, Odawa and Potawatomi peoples.

Lawrence, who is a Sexton alum, says the district is hoping to have a new mascot and logo in place by the beginning of the upcoming school year.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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