Fla. HS to Drop Name of Former Confederate General, KKK Grand Wizard

Jacksonville school that is 61.6 percent Black will no longer be named after Nathan B. Forrest.

By Albert Lin


A Florida school board on Monday voted unanimously (7-0) to change the name of a Jacksonville high school that honors former Confederate General and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan B. Forrest. Perhaps the only question is why it took so long at a 1,300-student school that is 61.6 percent Black; the school board struck down a previous attempt to change the name in 2007, voting 5-2 against.

"We recognize that we cannot and are not seeking to erase history," said board member Constance Hall. "For too long and too many, this name has represented the opposite of unity, respect, and equality."

"We need to make today about honoring the future, which is our children," said Jason Fischer, another board member.

Jacksonville resident Omotayo Richmond started a petition on Change.org titled "Duval Public Schools: No More KKK High School" that garnered more than 160,000 signatures. Richmond wrote: "I don't want my daughter, or any student, going to a school named under those circumstances. This is a bad look for Florida—with so much racial division in our state, renaming Forrest High would be a step toward healing."

Before the vote, the district surveyed several groups of stakeholders (students, faculty, alumni, community, etc.) and the results were surprisingly divided. Sixty-four percent of students wanted to change the name of the school, while 94 percent of alumni wanted to keep it. Seventy-five percent of Parent-Teacher Association members wanted to change the name, while the same percentage of community members and 52 percent of faculty wanted to keep it.

Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said that the same groups will be polled the rest of the week on one of two names—West Side High or Firestone High—with the winner presented to the board on Jan. 7. The change will go into effect for the 2014–2015 school years. Students will also be asked if they want to keep the school mascot, the Rebel.

"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 today," Vitti said. "I am convinced that my recommendation and the board's decision will move Jacksonville and the school district forward and allow us to focus on what matters most—student achievement."

The school has been named after Forrest since its opening in 1959. Forrest was a plantation owner, a slave trader and a Confederate lieutenant general whose troops were involved in the massacre of black Union soldiers at the Battle of Fort Pillow in Tennessee. He was also elected the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, which was formed shortly after the Civil War.

Other landmarks honoring Forrest, including a bust in Selma, Ala., a statue in Memphis, Tenn., (located in what used to be called Nathan Bedford Forrest Park), a statue in Nashville, Tenn., and a 2011 proposal for a Mississippi license plate, have also met with resistance.

A grades 6–12 school in Chapel Hill, Tenn., where Forrest was born, is still named after him.

What On Earth Is Becky Afraid Of?

Student who brings assault rifle to campus gets no arrest, no police shooting thanks to white privilege.

TWITTER

If Kaitlin Bennett wasn't white, you'd be reading about a dead Black student.

She graduated from Kent State University in Ohio, brought an AR-10 to campus the next day, and posted about gun rights on Twitter:

Having led a rally for campus open carry on a few weeks ago, Bennett said students should be allowed to carry to protect themselves, a message heard over and over at the recent NRA Convention. She also referenced the 1970 shooting at the school that killed four students. The day after graduation, she walked on campus with her family, escorted by a campus officer, to take pictures with the rifle.

She reportedly balked at the idea of her critics saying she had white privilege, and retorted that anyone who said that was racist, during a recent Fox News interview. She is also the President of the school's chapter of Liberty Hangout, a right-wing media outlet that has been known to promote racism in their posts.

But she had permission from the university to bring that assault weapon to school. What she and so many others fail to recognize is that permission to have a gun doesn't excuse Black people.

Philando Castile was killed by police in 2016 after he informed them he had a licensed firearm in the car. And, in 2017, Siwatu-Salama Ra, a black pregnant woman was jailed for protecting her family from deadly assault with an unloaded firearm. Gun rights are very different for Black people than they are for whites. Even the 19 year old Black female student, Aliah Kimbro knows that. She told Refinery29 that it was hard for her to support Bennett knowing her own gun rights aren't safe.

Yet crime statistics say that police are innocent when it comes to the situations with Black people being killed, assaulted, or jailed. CNN Reported that between 2005 and 2017, 35% of police were convicted of murder or manslaughter, while the rest were pending or not convicted, according to work by Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Almost one quarter of the people killed by police last year and this year already were Black. Of the Hispanic victims, 18% were killed last year and 12% this year. People of color are being preyed upon.

Yet Bennett says her gun control is taking away her rights to protect herself. Would she prepare to use that rifle if some police officer wrongfully attacked a Black fellow college student? Probably not. So, by her logic, then all Blacks should be able to carry weapons.

Let's see the NRA get behind that notion.

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REUTERS

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Donald Sherman / FACEBOOK

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Last week, the cops were called on three Black teens falsely accused of shoplifting at a Nordstrom Rack in St. Louis, Mo. And now there are calls for a boycott of a vintage boutique in gentrified Brooklyn, N.Y., where a Black attorney and her daughter were racially profiled.

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