A petition on change.org with some 75,000 signatures is asking a Florida school district to change the name of a high school that is named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and the first “grand wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan.
Yes, there is a school named after the founder of the KKK, in America, in 2013 (there's another in Forrest's birthtown in Tennessee). This Jacksonville school opened as a whites-only school in 1959 with the help of the Daughters of the Confederacy, a reaction to desegration efforts.
Now that more than half of the school's students are African American, perhaps a rebranding might be in order? Can you imagine what message that name sends to those kids? Believe it or not, a 2007 effort failed on a 5-2 vote of the school board.
The School Board did not accept that recommendation and voted 5-2, in November 2008, not to change the name. During that conversation, opponents said removing Forrest's name was a step toward erasing Southern heritage and called Forrest a civil rights advocate and a good man.
Up is also down, and black is white. How good of a man was Forrest? How much of a civil rights advocate?
Achilles Clark, a soldier with the 20th Tennessee cavalry, wrote to his sister immediately after the battle: "The slaughter was awful. Words cannot describe the scene. The poor, deluded, negroes would run up to our men, fall upon their knees, and with uplifted hands scream for mercy but they were ordered to their feet and then shot down. I, with several others, tried to stop the butchery, and at one time had partially succeeded, but General Forrest ordered them shot down like dogs and the carnage continued. Finally our men became sick of blood and the firing ceased."
More on N.B. Forrest High School below the fold.
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