This 1994 Baltimore Sun story is still relevant, nearly 20 years later, as support grows for the Washington Redskins football team to change its name. I had never heard of the situation in Pekin, Illinois, before, but it has some similarities:
In July 1974, I went to the small town of Pekin, Ill., with a group of Chinese-Americans from Chicago who were offended by the name of Pekin’s high school football team.
Pekin, named for the Chinese city of Peking, called its team the “Chinks.”
The students at Pekin High told the visitors that they loved their Chinks and that to them it was a name of honor and respect and no harm was intended.
The Chinese-Americans argued that regardless of how it was intended, the name was degrading and racist and should be changed. (» more)
Additional reading from the Washington Post:
At the start of every basketball game, a Chink and Chinklette — that is, a boy and girl dressed in Chinese attire — would walk into the center of the court and bow. (» more)
…and from the Chicago Tribune:
A decade after Peggy Vogelsinger was named the 1963 Pekin High School Chinklette of the Year, she noticed a disturbing headline on the front page of the Detroit Free Press. Her high school`s team nickname, the Chink, was deemed racist.
"I remember thinking that wasn`t how we felt at all," said Vogelsinger, a 1963 Pekin graduate who is now a youth minister in Mequon, Wis. "To be the Chinklette and dress in Chinese regalia before basketball games was a great honor. It was a symbol of the spirit." (» more)