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University of Florida ends ‘gator bait’ chant citing history of racism

In a letter from President Kent Fuchs, the University of Florida on Thursday announced steps it plans to take to stand against racism, including discontinuing the “gator bait” chant.
FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2015, file photo, Albert and Alberta, the mascots for Florida, do the...
FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2015, file photo, Albert and Alberta, the mascots for Florida, do the gator chomp before the first half of an NCAA college football game against Vanderbilt in Gainesville, Fla. The University of Florida is ending its 'gator bait' cheer at football games and other sports events because of its racial connotations, the school's president announced Thursday, June 18, 2020, in a letter making several other similar changes on campus. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)(John Raoux | AP)
Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 6:34 PM EDT
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(WVLT) - In a letter from President Kent Fuchs, the University of Florida on Thursday announced steps it plans to take to stand against racism, including discontinuing the “gator bait” chant.

“While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our ‘Gator Bait’ cheer at UF sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase,” Fuchs said. “Accordingly, University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer.”

According to ESPN, the chant started in 1995 when former safety Lawrence Wright said, “If you ain’t a Gator, ya Gator bait, baby,” following the team’s win over Florida State.

According to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, the saying dates back to the late 1800′s and early 1900′s when multiple racist cartoons published in newspapers depicted black babies being fed to alligators.

In an interview with the Gainsville Sun, Wright reportedly said he does not agree with the decision to end the chant saying, “I created something for us. It’s a college football thing. It’s not a racist thing, It’s about us, the Gator Nation. And I’m black. What about our history as the Gator Nation? We took a program from the top five to No. 1 in the country. I think I’ve done enough, put in the sweat and tears, to get to offer my opinion about something like this.”

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