A civil rights group that has worked with the National Football League on diversity issues in the past publicly denounced the continued use of the name “Redskins” by the Washington D.C. football team on Monday.
The nonprofit Fritz Pollard Alliance (FPA), whose mission statement is to “promote diversity and equality of job opportunity” in the NFL, said in a statement that it made the decision after carefully studying the issue and meeting with both sides.
“Over the last year, FPA has had multiple conversations with leaders of the Washington Football Club, including owner Dan Snyder and Club President Bruce Allen, as well as leaders in the Native American community,” Fritz Pollard Alliance Chair John Wooten and Executive Director Harry Carson said in a joint statement obtained by NBC Sports. “Based on our study and conversations, we believe the Washington Club should cease using the name.”
According to the Washington Post, which first reported on the news, the FPA tried to discuss the issue with Snyder in August but was “shouted down” by the executive director of a foundation started by Snyder to help Native Americans. The FPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Huffington Post.
Snyder has repeatedly refused to even consider the possibility of changing the name. “We'll never change the name," he told USA Today in 2013. It's that simple. NEVER — you can use caps." The league office has said the decision rests with the team alone.
As ThinkProgress notes, a number of other civil rights groups, including the NAACP and ACLU, have already publicly denounced the name. But the FPA is more closely affiliated with the NFL: The nonprofit has worked closely with the league in the past to improve opportunities for minority job candidates.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark office cancelled the team’s trademark registration of the “Redskins” name in 2014, calling the name and logo “disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered.” But the office noted in its filing that it did not have the power to stop the team from using the name.
In a 2014 Sports Illustrated poll, only 25 of those surveyed said the Washington Redskins should change their team name.