Sociologist Dr. James V. Fenellon from John Carroll University spoke on “Chief Wahoo and the Cleveland Indians: Global Icons and Symbolic Racism” for Equal Rights Awareness Day sponsored by the student organization, Promoting Equality And Community Everywhere (P.E.A.C.E.).   Descended from the Lakota/Dakota Sioux, Professor Fenelon examined the evolution and perceived significance of the team logo of the Cleveland Indians baseball team, “Chief Wahoo”—adopted by the team in 1915 and developed into its current form in 1952.  Protests against the design as “racist” began with the opening of the team’s stadium, Jacobs Field, in 1994, and they intensified, spreading to college campuses, during the Indians’ unsuccessful 1995 World Series contest against another “Indian” team, the Atlanta Braves.

 Some of Dr. Fenelon’s remarks were drawn from a paper he presented to the American Sociological Association at its August 1997 meeting in Toronto.  “Wahoo: Window into the World of Racism” reported on an extensive multi-generational and on a multi-ethnic survey, a study of media coverage of the protests against “the Wahoo” and on interviews.  One of the study’s conclusions was that “institutionalized ‘white racism’ is clearly evidenced in [the] display, distribution and defense of the racial icon Chief Wahoo.”

 For its event, P.E.A.C.E. invited 100 local high school students to campus to participate in workshops and discussions around issues of symbolism and race.