NORTH FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL RETAINS KKK FOUNDER’S NAME

ASSOCIATED PRESS • November 4, 2008

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Florida school board voted late Monday night to keep the name of a Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader at a majority black high school, despite opposition from a black board member who said the school’s namesake was a “terrorist and racist.”

After hearing about three hours of public comments, Duval County School Board members voted 5-2 to the retain the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School. The board’s two black members cast the only votes to change the name.

“(Forrest) was a terrorist and a racist,” argued board member Brenda Priestly Jackson, who is black.

Betty Burney, the board chairman and the board’s other black member, also voted against retaining the name.

“It is time to turn the page and get beyond where we are,” she said.

Board member Tommy Hazouri voted to keep the name and said it is difficult to know “who the real Forrest is.”

The board listened to passionate arguments from those on both sides. More than 140 people crowded into the meeting room, with another 20 watching the meeting on a television in the lobby.

Many urged a name change, saying the Forrest name was an insult.

Nathan Bedford Forrest was part of the Ku Klux Klan, no matter how you put it. Nathan Bedford Forrest needs to be changed,” said Stanley Scott, who is black.

But several spoke favorably of the general, saying the perceptions that Forrest was an evil man who ordered the massacre of Union troops were incorrect.

‘Good man’

June Cooper, who graduated from Forrest in 1970, said some people wanted to wipe out Southern history.

“He was a good man,” said Cooper, who is White. “He was a military genius.”

Despite her opposition, the board’s chairwoman noted that the intensely debated issue could distract from students’ education and had even prompted one person to receive death threats for wanting the name changed.

“The naming of a school should not take precedence over someone’s life,” she said.

Some had suggested naming the school after the street it sits on, or honoring a graduate whose plane was shot down in 1991 over Iraq on the first night of Operation Desert Storm.

Forrest High School, which has received two consecutive “F” grades on state assessment tests, opened as an all-white school in the 1950s. Its name was suggested by the Daughters of the Confederacy, who saw it as a protest to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that eventually integrated the nation’s public schools.

But now more than half Forrest High’s students are black.

Slave trader

The issue has come up several times during the past half-century, but the School Board has never changed the name. Jacksonville has three other schools named after Confederate generals, but it also has schools named after civil rights icons.

Born poor in Chapel Hill, Tenn., in 1821, Forrest amassed a fortune as a plantation owner and slave trader, importing Africans long after the practice had been made illegal. At 40, he enlisted as a private in the Confederate army at the outset of the Civil War, rising to a cavalry general in a year.

Some accounts accused Forrest of ordering black prisoners to be massacred after a victory at Tennessee’s Fort Pillow in 1864, though historians question the validity of the claims.

In 1867, the newly formed Klan elected Forrest its honorary Grand Wizard or national leader, but he publicly denied being involved. In 1869, he ordered the Klan to disband because of the members’ increasing violence. Two years later, a congressional investigation concluded his involvement had been limited to his attempt to disband it.

After his death in 1877, memorials to him sprung up throughout the South, particularly in Tennessee. A mounted statue of Forrest and the graves of the general and his wife are in a Memphis park bearing his name.

RELATED LINKS:
 
 
School board members voted to keep the name of High School, which was named for a Confederate general and early leader. Nathan Bedford Forrest High …
Chicago Tribune  November 4 6:41 AM  Explore Story »
School To Keep Former Klan Leader’s Name CBS News  November 4 2:30 AM
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Duval County School Board
1701 Prudential Dr Jacksonville, FL 32207-8152· (904) 390-2000
To: Superintendent of Schools
Attn: Ms. Brenda Priestly Jackson, Ms. Betty Burney, Mr. Tommy Hazouri
 
cc: Jacksonville, Florida Times-Union
Mailbag, P.O. Box 10, Fort Myers, FL 33902. Fax: 239.334.0708
To the Editor:  David Plazas – Editorial/Comm Conversation Ed
 
November 6, 2008
 
TO: Duval County School Board
 
RE:  School Board Votes 5-2 to Retain KKK Founder’s Name on Nathan Bedford Forrest High School, 5530 Firestone Rd., Jacksonville, Fla.
 
The community has spoken, and they wanted the name changed. They were not listened to. They were disregarded, and disrespected in their request. A board of directors with a conscience listens to their constituents, but this school board obviously does not care about what the community desires.
 
There are four reasons why this school should not remain named after Nathan Bedford Forrest:
 
*Nathan Bedford Forrest, a native Tennesseean, was a traitor and a secessionist who fought against the United States on the side of the CSA:
 
 
ConfederateArmyPhoto.jpg
Confederate Army photo.
 
 

Battle flag of the Confederate States of America.

 
*Nathan Bedford Forrest, amassed a fortune, estimated at $1,500,000, as a slave trader and plantation owner before enlisting in the CSA army as a private in Josiah H. White’s cavalry company on June 14, 1861. He continued to import enslaved, kidnapped Africans, long after the practice had been made illegal January 1, 1808:
 

File:Forrest & Maples listing.png
 
N.B. Forrest listing from Memphis City Directory, 1855-1856. (SOURCE; Project Gutenberg, Book of American Adventures, by Julian Street, 1917.)
 
*Nathan Bedford Forrest commanded the troops which captured Fort Pillow, Tennesse, which was being defended by black Union soldiers. He ordered the slaughter of those soldiers AFTER they had surrendered. Not known to many people is that in addition to killing the Black soldiers who surrended, Forrest also had his troops slaughter Black women and children who were living in the fort. The outright murder of soldiers who have lain down their arms and surrendered is hateful enough, but, the vicious killing of defenseless women and children is explicit savagery and a mark of a monstrous coward.
 
Executing POW and non-combatant civilians (women and children) is beyond unconcscionable. It is the mark of a cold, depraved sadist.
 
 
 
 
*Nathan Bedford Forrest founded the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1867, an organized group of sadistic thugs, rapists, murderers, and thieves, who committed abominable savagery upon helpless ex-slaves. Nathan Bedford Forrest, as Grand Wizard of the KKK, brought into being a terrorist organization that left a trail of perverted injustice all across the American South:
 
 
 
Misissippi ku klux.jpg
Mississippi KKK.
 
 
 
Lynching-of-woman-1911.jpg
Laura Nelson, murdered, along with her 11-year-old son, by the terrorist group, the KKK.
 
To the Duval County School Board, you have done a grave wrong to the Black community which requested that this school be re-named.
No school should have on it the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a racist, a traitor, a terrorist, a mass murderer, especially if that school has a student body of Black pupils.
I hope that the Duval County School Board will relent from this most egregious and disrespectful decision and reconsider the name of this school.
Better yet, why not name the school after people who made a positive difference in the history of Florida:
Zora Neale Hurston, a literary giant who was born in Eatonville, Florida. Zora Hurston who was never a traitor and murderer.
-Osceola, Seminole Native American leader
-Julian “Cannonball” Adderly, jazz saxophonist, Tampa, Florida
-Norman E. Thargard, astronaut
James Weldon Johnson, author, educator, Jacksonville, Florida
-Asa Phillip Randolph, labor leader; Civil Rights leader, Crescent City, Florida
I urge you, the Duval County School Board, to look at what the community requests, and realize that the name Nathan Bedford Forrest is anathema to the community in which this school is located.
Is it too much to ask that you accept the wishes of the community of Duval County?
I certainly do not, and I know they do not.
Respectfully,
“Ann”
Nathan Bedford Forrest
July 13, 1821(1821-07-13) – October 29, 1877 (aged 56)
NathanBedfordForrest.jpg
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14 Comments

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14 responses to “NORTH FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL RETAINS KKK FOUNDER’S NAME

  1. He’s a real bad dude. He’s all dark cloud with no silver lining (unlike some historic figures, like Thomas Jefferson, who did some good along with the bad). I learned about Forrest and his massacre of civilians in a history book about the Mississippi River, of all places. I suspect that he did this more than was reported on.

  2. Heartofdarkness

    A military genius? Is Zap Branigan from Futurama a military genius? All he did was send huge waves of his own men into the teeth of the enemy and accept any amount of losses as acceptable. I don’t know if anyone has ever crunched the numbers, but I but he lost as many Southern troops as he killed northern ones. He was a butcher, plain and simple. A man of no redeeming value. Honestly, I surprised they EVER named a school after him.

  3. Big John

    As the genuise he was in this not so ripe age, he lead with honor and integrity he was a genuise and anyone who thinks otherwise was born into todays pathetic world where men strive like rats to the bait!
    Big John

    • White Rabbitt

      Big John. Clearly you are a proud working man whose life has likely not gone as planned. I have always felt great sypmpathy for the underpriveleged, the hurt, the poor, but to render these current realities as sympathetic to the life of N.B.Forrest is truly an act of wrong in itself. The man’s life was rooted in a clear desire to support his own wishes at whatever cost, disregarding others around him, Black and White alike. Some have said that the Ft. Pillow massacre did not happen; not true I think. There is plenty of testimonial evidence to the contrary. Today’s America should remember the honour of those in their past , not the questionable ones, of which General Forrest is merely one. The KKK may have started out with some degree of dignity, but can anyone human being even consider the organisation as anything more than abominable throughout most of its history.

  4. Catrena Jones

    Please email me this so I can forward this to my local Radio Station Here that covers port st lucie, vero beach, ft pierce. I am sad about this whole deal. I just feel tension. I moved to vero beach from west palm beach, fl and last week I pass a parade of confederate flags and I decide to go on the internet to get some history of the matter.

    I can be reached at 561-891-6198 please forward this to me

  5. Terry Diedrich

    What are black people the only ones allowed to be proud of their past?

  6. IW WIlliams

    I am pleased to read that they have chosen to keep the schools original name. ‘Bout time folks took a stand against those who wish to destroy everything the south holds dear. Those who think Gen. Forrest was a murderer must not know history very well. Then again, with a school grade of F’s two years in a row I can see why. I wounder what the schools grade was when it was predominately white.

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  8. bigdawg69

    Oh sure lets name a school Malcolm X High or Louis Farrakhan High or how about Jeremiah Wright High I am sure there are others I can come up with. It is part of history. Most of the black population in America today are here because of those times in our country. Most of blacks here today are not truly African-Americans… Does that make me an Irish, English, Scottish, Swiss, German, Cherokee Indian American…? Oh by the way they were being sold to the slave traders by their OWN people. People seem to avoid the truth about history. The North profitted heavily from the slave trade. Many of the slave traders were from the North. There are still some very prominent families in the North that their family got there foothold and start of their fortune from slave trade… They are now Democrats… The South was mainly farmers. Slavery was NOT what casued the Civil War. Slavery was on the way out anyway by that time do to mechanization of the processes. The Civil War was caused over states rights, JUST like the issue we have in Arizona right now. Was slavery wrong, yes, but it was happening all over the world for centuries. He is part of history and he was not a criminal as far as fighting on the Confederate side, there was a tremendous issue that needed to be settled. Are the revolutionists criminals too…? Was the Civil War a bad time in our country? Yes, however many good things have come from it, as well as some not so good things, that I won’t get in to here. It is all part of our history, we still have things with the names of English dictators here and they were tyrants to us back in the day, but we don’t change the names of those things. History is what got us to where we are now, and whether people like it or not we would not be where we are today without history and I think we are better off for it.

  9. C.C. LESTERS

    WOW! WHAT A JOKE SOME PEOPLE ARE….. YOUR REALIZED IF PROFITING FROM SLAVERY MEANT YOU WERE ERASED FROM HISTROY THEN WE WOULD BE ERASING AMERICA……. DO YOU PROTEST THE SLAVERY THAT IS STILL HAPPENING ALL OVER THE WORLD AND IN OUR OWN COUNTRY TODAY????
    HE KILLED UNION TROOPS? YA ITS CALLED A WAR… SHERMAN DESTROYED GEORGIA AND HE’S A HERO I SUPPOSE?

    DONT BE AFRAID TO READ FURTHER ON YOUR OWN PEOPLE….
    Forrest’s speech during a meeting of the “Jubilee of Pole Bearers” is a story that needs to be told. Gen. Forrest was the first white man to be invited by this group which was a forerunner of today’s Civil Right’s group. A reporter of the Memphis Avalanche newspaper was sent to cover the event that included a Southern barbeque supper.

    Miss Lou Lewis, daughter of a Pole Bearer member, was introduced to Forrest and she presented the former general a bouquet of flowers as a token of reconciliation, peace and good will. On July 5, 1875, Nathan Bedford Forrest delivered this speech:

    “Ladies and Gentlemen, I accept the flowers as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the Southern states. I accept it more particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God’s earth who loves the ladies I believe it is myself. (Immense applause and laughter.) I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to elevate every man, to depress none.

    (Applause.)

    I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going. I have not said anything about politics today. I don’t propose to say anything about politics. You have a right to elect whom you please; vote for the man you think best, and I think, when that is done, you and I are freemen. Do as you consider right and honest in electing men for office. I did not come here to make you a long speech, although invited to do so by you. I am not much of a speaker, and my business prevented me from preparing myself. I came to meet you as friends, and welcome you to the white people. I want you to come nearer to us. When I can serve you I will do so. We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment. Many things have been said about me which are wrong, and which white and black persons here, who stood by me through the war, can contradict. Go to work, be industrious, live honestly and act truly, and when you are oppressed I’ll come to your relief. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity you have afforded me to be with you, and to assure you that I am with you in heart and in hand.” (Prolonged applause.)

    End of speech.1

    Nathan Bedford Forrest again thanked Miss Lewis for the bouquet and then gave her a kiss on the cheek. Such a kiss was unheard of in the society of those days, in 1875, but it showed a token of respect and friendship between the general and the black community and did much to promote harmony among the citizens of Memphis.

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