The slow disassociation of the Hays CISD from the Confederacy has gone on for almost two decades, with the last major step taken in 2015 when “Dixie” was dropped as a fight song.
In the wake of the murder of Houston native George Floyd beneath the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, there have been calls on social media for the district to go further, with some suggestion the “Rebel” be replaced as mascot.
“This isn’t about me, it’s about our values,” Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell told the Hays Free Press. “To most graduates of Hays High School, ‘Rebel Pride’ means the same thing as ‘Ranger Pride’ or ‘Lobo Pride.’ But to the outside world it means something different.
“It’s about whether or not we still find it acceptable to project ‘Rebel Pride’ to those who don’t live here.”
Mitchell said though he’s not originally from Kyle, he’s “lived my whole life within a two-hour drive.” He said at the time he grew up on the Leon River in Coryell County, he lived on a rural road “without a single black neighbor for miles and miles.”
Mitchell said he is also planning to petition the Texas Historical Commission about changes he would like to see to Kyle’s downtown square. When seen from above, the square’s perimeter and diagonal sidewalks resemble the “stars and bars” of the Confederate battle flag, he pointed out.
He told the newspaper he plans to ask the Historical Commission “for permission to remove the sidewalks.”
When he floated his ideas about Rebel Road on Facebook, many of the comments were predictable. Many Hays High School graduates defended “tradition,” while others agreed that it is time for a change.
Still others wondered if Kyle residents could have a hand in what the road’s new name might be.
One noted that Fergus Kyle, who founded the city named in his honor, himself served in the Confederate Army. According to the Texas Handbook, even after hostilities ceased, “Kyle continued throughout his life to wear his Confederate gray uniform on frequent occasions.”