MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – A West Morgan High School graduate is caught in the middle of the ongoing Confederate flag controversy. He simply wanted a class ring depicting his school’s “rebel” mascot.
On Sunday, Aaron Browder went to Walmart to purchase a class ring within his budget. He’s saved up his graduate money and knew exactly what he wanted.
“A basic crest ring, one side being the West Morgan Rebel Mascot, the other with JROTC, a sapphire stone with WMHS around the stone,” Aaron described.
It would be a symbol of all he had accomplished.
“It`s something I`ve looked forward to since my 9th grade year,” said Aaron.
But when Aaron and his mom, Brenda, went to place his order at a Walmart in Decatur, they were told by a store clerk they were unable to fulfill the order. The store`s the reasoning? Unlike the WMHS Rebel mascot, the generic rebel mascot depicted in the brochure featured a Confederate flag in the background.
“That picture is just so teeny tiny, we didn`t recognize no rebel flag there. We just wanted his school mascot on the ring,” said Brenda. “There was nothing racist, nothing about the rebel flag.”
They left the store, but later Brenda’s frustrations grew.
“We realized this is more than just a class ring! We can go – it may cost more – but we can go to another store to get a class ring. But this is about everybody else.”
The rebel ring confusion starts with a third-party supplier that depicts the rebel mascot as a gun-toting militia-man standing in front of a Confederate flag. A far cry from the mascot Aaron wanted on his ring, which in Aaron’s words is a “little old Southern man, white goatee, crimson suit, standing there holding a cane.”
No rebel flag in sight.
A Walmart spokesman tells WHNT News 19 they were made aware of the incident and have addressed the issue so this does not happen again.
“The ring requested by the customer is a design that is no longer offered at our store and was not the high school mascot. We have made our third-party supplier aware that customers might be interested in purchasing a ring with the high school mascot and they are working on making these available to customers in the community,” said Brian Nick, Walmart’s Media Relations Director.
Brenda and Aaron are happy to hear it.
“That is great, that is a good move by Walmart. That is moving forward instead of just staying stuck in all of this mess,” said Brenda.
Aaron says he hopes to purchase his class ring at Walmart once the issue is resolved.