A Florida school named after a KKK member is to be changed per the Duval County School Board. The decision comes after a decades-long controversy over the school named after a Confederate General and honorary Ku Klux Klan leader that some historical records say ordered the death of hundreds of black Union Soldiers.
Duval County said the change was made in large part due to its students who on Monday voted unanimously to change the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School in Jacksonville. The change will take place next year once a new name is chose, said Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.
“What I want is for students at Nathan Bedford Forrest to use this as a civics lesson,” Vitti said. He added that he hopes students will realize they can make a difference from this.
Along with records showing that he ordered the execution of captured black Union soldiers during the Civil War, other accounts show that his history also included operating as a slave trader.
Vitti said he will conduct another survey to decide the school’s new name. The school board expects to make a decision on the new name early next year.
Interestingly enough, Forrest High opened as an all-white school in the 1950s. Now it is predominately African American.
Forrest Hill was born poor in Chapel Hill, Tenn., in 1821, but eventually went on to amass a fortune as a plantation owner and slave trader. He went on to import Africans long after slave trading became illegal. At the age of 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 per stltoday.
In 1867, the newly formed Klan elected Forrest its honorary Grand Wizard, although he publicly denied being involved. In 1869, he ordered the Klan to disband because of the increase in violence the members displayed.