By SHANE SMITH
For The Mustang News
After more than four decades of being known as the “Nightriders,” the Mustang High School band will have a new nickname beginning this fall.
Officials announced this week that because of concerns about the Nightriders’ history, the Nightrider nickname is being dropped.
A Google search reveals that one definition of the word carries offensive connotations.
In the past, it had been used to describe men on horses who committed violence upon black people under the cover of night.
According to the statement, the nickname, as used by the school since the 1980s, has never had anything to do with that definition.
However, there are concerns that it doesn’t reflect the goals of the school program, reads a statement from the district.
“This nickname has been a source of great pride for the program for many Mustang High School Band students, families and fans over the years, but the reality that we now recognize is that this moniker, although associated with the positive history of the program, it is not reflective of the band’s mission.
“The idea of the ‘rider’ came as a complement to the school mascot, the Bronco. The word ‘night’ was added as something that is unique to competitive marching band as an activity.
“In the competitive marching arena, the elite or ‘primetime’ performances are held at nighttime; so the goal is to earn the right to play at night under the stadium lights.”
Band director Ryan Edmon, who heads the program with more than 1,400 students, said the foundation of the program is focused on creating positive relationships.
“Our mission is to foster responsibility, accountability, musicianship and a family atmosphere for all of our students,” Edmon said.
The administration decided to remove the name without being asked or forced.
Superintendent Charles Bradley said the decision was about the welfare of students.
“If we have students walking our halls who are uncomfortable with the nightrider nickname, who cannot share in the pride and spirit we want all students to have, who are divided from classmates because of the very thing that’s supposed to bring students together, then I think we need to be more culturally sensitive and choose inclusivity,” Bradley said.
Kirk Wilson, director of communications for Mustang Schools, said students and parents have supported the decision to change the name.
A new moniker will be chosen for the band at a later date.
In light of worldwide unrest, the district has been working to make sure all students feel heard, respected and equally included.
Jason Kirksey, a diversity and inclusion consultant, has been working with the administration on this matter, the district said.