An online petition with more than 78,000 signatures requests a reconsideration of the name of a Florida high school christened after the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Nathan Bedford Forrest High School, of the Duval County School
District in Jacksonville, opened in 1959 and was named after the
Confederate Army Lieutenant General during the Civil War who
joined the KKK around early 1867.
Forrest was reportedly the first KKK Grand Wizard for a term of roughly two years. He disbanded the first incarnation of the KKK in 1869 and distanced himself from the group in the ensuing years.
Though the Change.org petition has gained nationwide attention, the Duval County School Board has final say on any name change.
Five years ago, the county school board voted 5-2 to keep the name, though the board contains all new members, the petition states.
The district’s superintendent, Dr. Nikolai Vitti, said the board has not received a new formal request for a name change, but he would support one if it happened.
“One thing I’ve been talking a lot about is the need to modernize Jacksonville,” Vitti told WJXT in Jacksonville. “If we want folks to come here, whether it’s business, it’s high level employees to Jacksonville, names of schools, names of parks, it all matters.”