I moved to Jacksonville from Long Island 12 years ago. Since then, I've put down roots here. I've helped raise a beautiful daughter here. 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.
That's right, Jacksonville is home to Nathan Bedford Forrest High School, named in honor of a Confederate general who infamously slaughtered Black Union soldiers who'd already surrendered and who was a founding member of the original Ku Klux Klan. The school got its name in 1959, when white civic leaders wanted to protest a court decision that called for integrating public schools.
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.
Five years ago, the school board voted 5 - 2 to keep the name. But a lot has changed in five years. All five members who voted for Nathan Bedford Forrest have been replaced. There's a new school superintendent who publicly stated that he would support a push from our community to change the name. Now is the time to right a historical wrong. 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.
In the end, I want my child to be able to go anywhere in Jacksonville and be proud of where she is. That can't happen with Nathan Bedford Forrest High School. Please support changing the name today.
It is especially troubling that more than half of Forrest High attendees are African American -- the school is named for someone who would have kept their ancestors enslaved and who helped lead an organization, the KKK, that went on to terrorize, intimidate, and disenfranchise Black people for nearly a century.
Naming a public high school for so divisive a figure is a relic of a bygone era -- a legacy that must be actively rejected. I urge you to reject the legacy of Nathan Bedford Forrest by renaming Forrest High immediately.