Hard Won progress on Washington Football Team Name
Over eighty years of racist history arrived at an end on July 13, 2020 when the Washington Football Team announced that it would stop using the racist name, Redsk-ns, and its accompanying racist logo. While to many this appeared to be a swift reaction to a burst of attention on social media, this change came after decades of pressure from Native American leaders such as the Oneida Trust of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, supported by investors like Trillium Asset Management.
Trillium first became involved in 2009 when we worked with Susan White of the Oneida Trust in what would be the first of many shareholder proposals that sought to persuade FedEx, the holder of the team stadium’s naming rights, to use its leverage with the team to make the name change.
Over the next 11 years, through shareholder proposals, meetings, and many other efforts at FedEx, Bank of America, Pepsi, and Nike, a group of investors with Trillium as a prominent leader continued to relentlessly press these brand name partners of the team to use their power to end the racist name and symbols of the team. This culminated on June 26, 2020,in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests, when over $600 billion in investors led by Trillium, Oneida Trust, First Peoples Worldwide, and other investors delivered letters to Nike, FedEx, Pepsi, and Bank of America urging them to follow through on their pro-Black Lives Matter statements and apply those principles for racial justice to their relationships with the team.
By July 2, 2020 the four companies were calling on the team to change its name and the next day the team announced it would “undergo a thorough review of the team’s name”. Following ongoing pressure from Trillium, Oneida Trust, First Peoples Worldwide, and others the team finally relented 11 days later by permanently retiring the name and logo.
Trillium is grateful for the principled leadership of Susan White and her colleagues at the Oneida Trust for their courage and perseverance. We were honored to work alongside them to achieve a hard-won victory for justice.
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