A portrait of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the original grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and namesake of a Florida high school that still bears his name, despite long protests to change it.
A petition on Change.org boasting 75,000 signatures calls on Duval County School District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to rename the school, at which more than half of the students are African-American.
“I’m shocked and outraged that in this day and age, any student would be forced to attend a school named for Nathan Bedford Forrest. I urge you to immediately change the school’s name,” Jacksonville resident Omotayo Richmond wrote in the petition.
But the school board does not respond to petitions, spokeswoman Marsha Oliver told the Daily News Friday.
“We have a school board policy and processes that we follow,” Oliver said. “The petition is not the starting point for that process.”
Nathan Bedford Forrest High School in Jacksonville, Fla., named after the legendary Confederate general who became the first grand wizard of the KKK.
The council is made up of students, parents, businesses and members of the community, she said.
The large number of area signatures on the petition makes no difference to the board’s process, she said.
Asked if the council will bring up changing the school’s name, Oliver replied, “I can’t answer that.”
The school board was asked by the School Advisory Council in April 2007 to change the name, but the panel voted it down 5-2 in 2008.
The high school bearing Forrest’s named opened in 1959 and had only white students.
Forrest’s name was prevalent on buildings throughout the South, but those titles have been changed over the past decades.
Forrest became the Klan’s first grand wizard in 1867 and later distanced himself from the racist organization.
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