One of the most iconic mascots in college football, USC's Traveler, has come under fire from political activists who point out it bears the same name as Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's famous horse.
According to the Los Angeles Times, USC students rallied last week to show support for the victims of the recent tragedy in Charlottesville. One speaker at the rally, a leader in the USC Black Student Assembly, said that “white supremacy hits close to home," mentioning the name of the Trojans' mascot.
The merits of the horse's name have since been debated on social media, with the majority of posters seeming to think the effort to connect USC's Traveler and Lee's Traveller is a huge reach.
USC's mascot, Traveler has NOTHING to do with hate, or white supremacy. Please get educated about the facts and stop your hate.
— Michelle (@mstewart919) August 19, 2017
When the Times contacted the university, officials referenced the mascot's official bio page. “USC’s mascot horse is a symbol of ancient Troy. Its rider, with costume and sword, is a symbol of a Trojan warrior,” the bio reads in part. “The name Traveler, spelled with one ‘l,’ is a common name among horses. . . . USC’s Traveler is and has always been a proud symbol of Troy. There is no truth to any other claims or rumors about its name.”
The Times offered differing accounts about whether the horse is, in fact, named after Lee's Traveller, but couldn't verify the name's origin.
Traveler has been a part of Trojans football since 1961, when USC officials spotted a local man riding a white horse in the Rose Parade and thought it would be a good idea to have him dress in armor and ride the horse around the field at home football games. A succession of Travelers have followed in the years since. Traveler IX will debut this fall.
In the years since that debut, Traveler has become a beloved tradition with USC football fans. There is even a statue of the mascot on campus. So Traveler definitely has many staunch defenders if this political debate heats up.
Tell me if I'm wrong, but i don't think of robert e Lee every time USC scores a touchdown and Traveler runs down the sideline. It's a reach
— USCarlos (@uscarlos) August 19, 2017
The Trojans open their 2017 season Sept. 2 at home against Western Michigan.