Mascot gotta go 

When Bob Zilli heads into work each day, he passes the Milford High School marquee that reads “Milford Redskins.” Zilli, who is part Cherokee and is an active member of the Cherokee Nation, is not happy about the “offensive” sign or that a Native American chief is used as the school’s symbol.

“I don’t think they should have a chief as a mascot. It would be like having the pope or a rabbi,” he says.

Zilli became particularly peeved when he when he learned last December that singer Rita Coolidge — also part Cherokee — was putting on two concerts at the school. Zilli thought Coolidge — who received the Cherokee Nation Humanity award just two weeks before her appearance — might want to know about the school’s mascot. After he wrote to the singer’s management, the school and Coolidge decided that she would still perform two shows, but added an intermission in which the plight of Cherokees was discussed.

This met with Zilli’s approval. But it really was not enough, he says. The Huron Valley School Board, which oversees Milford High School, offered to establish a diversity committee with Zilli as a member. Well, that was last January, and Zilli has heard nothing since.

Huron Valley human resources director Sam Osborn, who is forming a diversity committee, says he will meet with representatives from the National Conference for Community and Justice this month to begin putting together a program.

Osborn says that the diversity committee will be made up of students and others in the community. The mascot issue will be one of the “hot buttons” they address.

In the meantime, Zilli recently created a Web site where the public can log on and sign his petition that says: “The Huron Valley Schools and Milford High School have for too long perpetuated the racist stereotype by use of the Milford Redskins mascot. I urge them to discontinue this racist policy now!”

So far he says that he has received about 75 signatures. Zilli’s site can be found at www.PetitionOnline.com/bobzilli/.

" target="_blank">Cherokee Nation, is not happy about the “offensive” sign or that a Native American chief is used as the school’s symbol.

“I don’t think they should have a chief as a mascot. It would be like having the pope or a rabbi,” he says.

Zilli became particularly peeved when he when he learned last December that singer Rita Coolidge — also part Cherokee — was putting on two concerts at the school. Zilli thought Coolidge — who received the Cherokee Nation Humanity award just two weeks before her appearance — might want to know about the school’s mascot. After he wrote to the singer’s management, the school and Coolidge decided that she would still perform two shows, but added an intermission in which the plight of Cherokees was discussed.

This met with Zilli’s approval. But it really was not enough, he says. The Huron Valley School Board, which oversees Milford High School, offered to establish a diversity committee with Zilli as a member. Well, that was last January, and Zilli has heard nothing since.

Huron Valley human resources director Sam Osborn, who is forming a diversity committee, says he will meet with representatives from the National Conference for Community and Justice this month to begin putting together a program.

Osborn says that the diversity committee will be made up of students and others in the community. The mascot issue will be one of the “hot buttons” they address.

In the meantime, Zilli recently created a Web site where the public can log on and sign his petition that says: “The Huron Valley Schools and Milford High School have for too long perpetuated the racist stereotype by use of the Milford Redskins mascot. I urge them to discontinue this racist policy now!”

So far he says that he has received about 75 signatures. Zilli’s site can be found at www.PetitionOnline.com/bobzilli/.

News Hits was written by Ann Mullen and edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or cguyette@metrotimes.com

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