Published April 28, 2021
WAKEFIELD — Voters yesterday overwhelmingly supported keeping Native American imagery in the logo of Wakefield Memorial High’s sports teams and clubs. The question today: Now what?
Unofficially, 2,911 people voted in favor of keeping the Warrior logo while 2,337 opposed doing so. More than 25 percent of the town’s registered voters participated yesterday, making it one of the better attended town elections in recent memory. Support for the Warrior logo was significant; the “yes” vote carried five of the town’s seven precincts. In the two where it did not — Precincts 4 and 6 — the margin of the “no” victory was a total of three votes.
The balloting’s result, however, is non-binding, meaning that the day after the 2021 Town Election, the imagery is still in the process of being phased out because of a 5-2 School Committee vote on March 23 to eliminate the logo while maintaining the Warrior name.
Nevertheless, yesterday’s result showed that enough people wanted the School Committee to hold off making a decision for a month so more residents could have a say in the matter.
Elena Corradino, one of those who supported keeping the Warrior logo, wrote in an email, “I am proud of our Wakefield citizens today. They listened and delivered a powerful message with a YES vote on Question#1 to Save the Warrior. The Warrior vote question meant different things to different voters. Some voted because they did not like the actions of the School Committee leaving the voter out of the process. Some voted because they wanted to support Native Americans and not take them out of our culture. Some voted because they grew up with the Warrior symbol and to them it symbolized Wakefield history and pride. The vote represents values and differing opinions.
“I’ve voted YES, because I believe it was the best way to be inclusive of the Bayrd family history. We should unite to have our local American Indian history restored to our town, pay tribute to them. I voted to represent Native Americans that are seeking acceptance of their images and to protect their existence and respect them.
“I have been directly contacted by the Sioux Nation. They want to thank the supporters of the Wakefield community who voted to save the Warrior name and image. They said, ‘Wakefield is truly inspirational, they are proud we spoke up for them and did not do away with any Native American image that represents them.’ Exact words were, ‘this is a step in the right direction for their people.’
“Many voters felt that the premature School Committee vote was taken to act as a roadblock. It’s clear the voters wanted a say. Voters should never have this type of treatment again. If citizens go about it correctly and ask for something to be put on a ballot… Their leaders should hear and abide by their request.
“Let’s say it wasn’t the logo issue, perhaps another issue concerned citizens enough so that they petition to have an election brought to the community. The School Committee should have thought of that when they cast the vote to keep voices from being heard. We respect our school leaders, they should always respond positively when voters and taxpayers petition to get their own voices heard.
“The Yes Vote from the Community unified them together to show its support for Native Americans. The School Committee should value that. The decision of five members of this community is not supported by the yes vote. Most that voted were once students, some are teachers, helpers or parents of students in this community and some of age were students themselves.
“We should all be united, and move forward toward uniting our community. Our efforts should be to unite, show trustworthiness respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. No board counsel should ever overlook the value of an election. Our voices mattered. Both sides should be glad that we were offered the opportunity to share our thoughts. I will always and forever be a Warrior.”
Nicole Calabrese was one of the organizers of the Vote No on 1 Committee.
She emailed, “The Vote No on 1 Wakefield ballot question committee congratulates all the winners in the 2021 town election. While we are disappointed by the results of Question #1, we are proud of the work we have done to amplify the voices of Native Americans. We hope it is clear that the outcome does not reflect the views of the entire town. Wakefield is a welcoming community and we are dedicated to making our town inclusive and accepting for all its residents.
“We’re now working to support the School Committee. They made the right decision with their vote in March to retire the Warrior logo. We’ve always said human rights issues shouldn’t be decided by popular vote. The School Committee took the right steps to educate themselves, learning why the local Massachusetts Native American tribes don’t want to see demeaning representations of their cultures used as school mascots. This was a non-binding vote, so the School Committee’s decision stands. We applaud them for having the courage to make a decision that, while not popular, was the right one.
“A heartfelt thank you to our supporters and volunteers who worked tirelessly over the last several weeks. A special thank you to our student leaders who showed us how to be true Warriors with their kind hearts, fierce minds, and brave spirits.
“Progress isn’t always linear, but it is inevitable,” she concluded.