Florida high school named after KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest gets new identity

8:03 PM, Dec 17, 2013   |    comments
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Nathan Bedford Forrest



Jacksonville, Florida (USA TODAY) -- The identity of a Jacksonville high school, named after an early Ku Klux Klan leader, is finally changing after the school board voted unanimously Monday to call it something else.

Duval Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti wants the students of the mostly black high school to decide on a new name to replace Nathan B. Forrest. The change will happen in July 2014.

A previous attempt to change the school's name was struck down by the school board in 2007.

Following an order by the federal district court Forrest High became integrated in 1971. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a confederate general in the Civil War. Forrest was also the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Of the 1,035 students who responded to a survey on the name change, 64 percent of students were in favor while 36 percent were against it, according to FirstCoastNews.com.

Omotayo Richmond, a Jacksonville resident, started a petition on the website Change.org, where he collected more than 160,000 signatures from people wanting a new name.

He believes the decision is a win for everyone.

"I'm really glad that we had the opportunity to smash some old paradigm of hate and racism here," Richmond said. "This city is too beautiful for that blemish to be on it."

So far students have proposed the names "Westside High School" and "Firestone High."

"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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