School Named After KKK Grand Wizard Finally Approves Name Change
It should have happened sooner, but a Florida school named after a KKK Grand Wizard is finally being renamed. The Nathan Bedford Forrest High School in Jacksonville, Flor. will be renamed starting in August, at the beginning of the next school year, after the Duval County school board voted unanimously in favor of the change. A previous attempt to rename the school was rejected by the board in 2008.
The name change was inspired largely through an online petition created by Omotayo Richmond, a parent in the Jacksonville community, which received over 160,000 signatures. ”This place is my home now, and the people who live here deserve better than a high school named for the first Grand Wizard of the KKK,” he wrote in the petition. “African American Jacksonville students shouldn’t have to attend a high school named for someone who slaughtered and terrorized their ancestors one more school year.” Richmond said he was “very encouraged” by the decision to change the name of the school.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, members of the KKK spoke about against trying to change the name of the school. A Missouri branch of the Klan wrote a letter to school board and accused them of trying to teach a “more politically correct version” of Forrest’s history. “The Klan was born primarily as a fraternity,” read the letter. “[It] quickly evolved into a group of vigilance to protect defenseless southerners from criminal activities perpetrated against them by Yankee carpet baggers, scalawags, and many bestial blacks and other criminal elements out for revenge or just taking part in criminal mischief.”