STATE REP RACE Q&A: Robertson & DiFruscia Discuss Whether It’s Time For Tewksbury To Retire The Term “Redmen”

Leading up to the November 4 election, Wilmington Apple will be submitting questions each week to both candidates for the 19th Middlesex State Representative seat — incumbent Dave Robertson (D-Tewksbury) and challenger Alec DiFruscia (R-Tewksbury). Have a question for them? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.

Question: Should Tewksbury replace its “Redmen” moniker? Why or not? What role, if any, should the state legislature play in forcing school districts to retire Native American mascots?

Dave Robertson

I believe this is best left municipalities to decide for themselves. However, I will say, that as the only candidate who graduated from either one of our public school systems, this was the mascot that adorned my track uniform. As a student, I never thought of the mascot nor moniker as anything but a symbol of Tewksbury’s proud past. It was the positive spirit of what it meant to be from our town. Not once did our team think of ourselves as “savages” or make light of any Native American suffering. We viewed it part of New England’s last, not unlike the impact of the Irish diaspora giving way to “The Boston Celtics”.

For those of us who were living in town a few years ago, our school committee held a discussion on the matter in our schools where students, families, and residents made their voices heard. It was debated decided locally, after everyone had the opportunity to testify. It adorned the front pages of all local media, and the matter was settled duly settled. Trying to circumvent this town decision, especially while the state has more important education issues to work on, such as reopening the schools in a safe manner or ensuring students with special challenges having their needs met, is a misguided attempt at re-prioritizing what matters most

Alec DiFruscia

As a lifelong Tewksbury resident, I have always appreciated the sentiments behind our “Redmen” mascot and do not believe it should be changed. The mascot symbolizes our town pride and honors the integral role Native Americans played in our country’s founding.

While campaigning, I recently met Bob Doherty, a Tewksbury resident and historian. He told me that during both World Wars, soldiers proudly displayed Native American imagery on their uniforms. His piece in The Somerville Times states that for the troops, the imagery “was a declaration of their proud American heritage.” The Redmen mascot is our way of showing Tewksbury’s proud heritage.

The State Legislature should have no role in determining whether to change or keep the Redmen mascot, or any mascots across the state. City and town residents should be the only ones involved in that debate. In Tewksbury, the Redmen are here to stay.

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