Texas Rangers name should go, writes WaPo global opinions editor

Texas Rangers name should go, writes WaPo global opinions editor
© Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Washington Post Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah in an op-ed published Monday called on the Texas Rangers baseball team to change its name, writing that the history of the Texas Rangers means calling them that name is "not so far off from being called the Texas Klansmen."

In her op-ed, Attiah writes about the racial history of the Texas Rangers, including efforts it undertook to remove Native Americans from their land and capture runaway slaves.

"The Rangers oppressed black people, helping capture runaway slaves trying to escape to Mexico; in the aftermath of the Civil War, they killed free blacks with impunity," wrote Attiah, who grew up in Texas and went to Rangers games as a child. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"In the early 20th century, Rangers played a key role in some of the worst episodes of racial violence in American history along the Texas-Mexico border. Mexicans were run out of their homes and subject to mass lynchings and shootings. The killings got so out of control that the federal government threatened to intervene," she wrote.

More recently, Attiah writes that Texas Rangers stood by while black students attempting to take classes at all-white Texarkana Junior College were attacked in 1956. The episode is remembered in a new book by Doug J. Swanson entitled “Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers.”

"If the team ownership, as it proclaims, condemns 'racism, bigotry and discrimination in all forms,' there is an easy way for it to prove that. The Texas Rangers’ team name must go," she concluded.

The team, which was once the Washington Senators before moving to Texas in 1972, recently said it has no plans to change its name while citing its community outreach and charitable efforts.

“Over the past 30 years, the Texas Rangers Foundation has invested more than $45 million on programs and grants in the areas of health, education and crisis assistance for youth in our underserved communities,” the team said in a June 20 statement. “We go forward committed to do even more, with a renewed promise that the Texas Rangers name will represent solutions and hope for a better future for our communities."

The NFL's Washington franchise announced on Monday it was retiring its "Redskins" name and logo, which had long been criticized as racist. 

The Cleveland Indians are among other teams reviewing their names and practices.

The Texas Rangers team has received much less attention for its name in comparison, though Attiah writes that there were protests when the name was first picked.