Florida School Named for KKK Leaders Will Get a New One

Many African-Americans in Jacksonville objected to a largely Black school being named after a Confederate general and Klansman.

Posted: 12/17/2013 06:14 PM EST

(Photo: Courtesy of The Library of Congress)

For years, parents and students in Jacksonville objected to the name of one of the local schools: the Nathan Forrest High School. And now, they have been granted their wish to have the name changed.

Forrest was a general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and was remembered by Floridians as a self-educated and skillful cavalry leader as well as a leader in his community.

But Nathan Forrest was also the first Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, a fact that led many in the majority African-American high school to object to attending a school named for this pillar of the Confederacy.

There was an attempt to change the name six years ago, but it was blocked by the school board.

One Jacksonville resident, Omotayo Richmond, began a petition drive on the Internet to change the name. He collected more than 160 signatures from people requesting a new name.

And this week, the Duval County School Board voted unanimously to change the name of the school. The superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, has asked that the students decide on a new name. Their decision is expected to be voted on at the board’s meeting in January with the new name going into effect in June.

"It is clear that the Nathan B. Forrest name represents disparate views that have led to a cloud of divisiveness that we have had an opportunity to address and remove," Vitti said.

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