The Texas Rangers derive their name—a moniker they’ve held since the early 70s—from the state’s famed police force. Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman recently called on the organization to scrap its name, citing the law enforcement agency’s history of racial profiling and violence against blacks and Hispanics.
Despite a significant climate change brought on by the Black Lives Matter movement, the Rangers have no plans to adopt a new name, arguing that the team has forged its own identity since debuting in 1972 following a 10-year stint in the nation’s capital, where they were known as the Washington Senators.
“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 statement released Friday. “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."
Teams named for Native Americans including the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians and, to a lesser degree, the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Chiefs, have been a source of controversy for years with critics blasting the franchises for turning a blind eye to racism. The Rangers had been immune to similar scrutiny, until now. “It may be argued that the team name honors the current agency, not the worst elements of its history,” wrote Chapman in Thursday’s column. “But without the history and the legends, the franchise would not have adopted the name. No one would name a major league team 'The Police' or 'The Highway Patrol.’”
The Rangers have been supportive of Black Lives Matter, releasing a statement on the death of George Floyd while also observing Juneteenth (June 19), a holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in 1865. “The Texas Rangers Baseball Club stands for equality,” said the team in Friday’s press release. “We condemn racism, bigotry and discrimination in all forms."