FRISCO, Texas, March 5 (UPI) -- A North Texas school board's decision to change the 78-year-old name of a high school mascot from Fighting Coons to Fighting Raccoons was unpopular Tuesday with some townspeople.
Despite no support from the audience, the Frisco school board voted unanimously Monday night to change the mascot name of Frisco High School for reasons of racial sensitivity.
"Our job is to do what's right," said Board President Dan Presley. "There are kids moving here and parents who are moving here that are hurt by it."
Scores of parents, students and alumni attended the meeting and nobody in the audience spoke in favor of the change. They noted that the origin of the mascot name had nothing to do with race and the name has never been an issue at the school.
The Fighting Coons name was chosen during a 1924 meeting when a boy, clutching his pet raccoon, asked school officials to name the mascot after his pet.
"The word 'coon' doesn't define who I am," said Otto Hannah, a former Frisco high school football player who is black. "Changing the name would be taking away the tradition and legacy that people have worked so hard for."
Some people believe the pressure came from newcomers who wanted the name changed, not from longtime residents. Frisco, 10 miles north of Dallas, is the fastest growing city in Texas and one of the fastest growing in the nation.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Sarah Claunch, a 1970 graduate, said the Fighting Coon name was never a racial issue and most of the kids attending the school now don't understand the controversy and don't want the name changed.
"You've got a few people who have come into town and have decided it is a racial slur and because of those few people the school bends and does what those few want done," she said.
Claunch said when her family moved to Frisco in 1970 there were about 1,700 residents but now the population is nearly 50,000.
The attorney said she appreciates what the growth has done for Frisco but the town is losing the small town flavor residents have been so proud of for years.
"We lost a small part of that last night," Claunch said.