February 5th, 1976 – A riot erupts at Escambia High School in Pensacola because students voted to keep the new name Raiders instead of going back to the old name Rebels.The students who were in favor of changing it back to the Rebels, which was deemed “racially irritating” by the US District Court in 1973, went outside and attempted to hoist the “Rebel” flag even after losing. 30 students were injured and four were shot, including the quarterback. The riot lasted for four hours and the school building suffered extensive damage.
In the fall of ’76 students voted again to change the name to the Gators which they have kept as the mascot ever since. Not a pretty history, but one that should be remembered and retold because for some people change doesn’t come easy.
Photo credit: Pensacola Journal, 1976