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KKK urges DCPS to keep controversial school name

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Updated: 10/03/2013 7:04 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A high-ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan is urging the Duval County School Board not to change the name of a local high school.

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate Army general, grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and the namesake of a high school on Jacksonville's Westside.

For many, a school name evokes a sense of pride. That hasn't been the case recently at N.B. Forrest High.

More than 117,000 people signed an online petition demanding that the school district change the name.

Organizer Omotayo Richmond argues the name sends the wrong message and represents a man who enslaved, slaughtered and disenfranchised blacks in America.

But not everyone agrees with the petition. Action News obtained a letter sent to all seven Duval County School Board members from the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

"When I found out it was an actual KKK organization I wanted to burn the letter and wash my hands immediately," said school board member Jason Fischer.

Action News reporter Ryan Smith made some calls and tracked the letter back to the Missouri-based group. Smith spoke with the group's leader, who said he stands by it.

The letter asks the school board to "take a decisive stand to protect the name of the school based on the true historical facts surrounding this valiant man of honor."

The letter attempts to defend the KKK, stating the group was born to "protect defenseless southerners from criminal activities perpetrated against them by Yankee carpet baggers ..."

The letter goes on to use a racial slur against African-Americans, which Action News chose not to repeat.

"At first I thought it might be some sort of a gag or political stunt and then as I looked into it, I found out that it was an actual organization ... I was outraged by it," said Fischer.

School board members met last week to discuss the issue. Board member Connie Hall, who represents the area covering N.B. Forrest High, is spending a month gathering feedback from the community before the board makes any decisions.

Fischer is hosting a town-hall meeting to discuss the DCPS budget but predicts the public will bring up the racially-charged issue.

The meeting is open to the public and starts at 6 p.m. Thursday at Mandarin High School.

This isn't the first time there's been an outcry. In 2006, folks suggested changing the name to Eartha M.M. White -- after a Jacksonville philanthropist.

In 2008, the Duval County School Board voted 5-2 to keep the same name, but current Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said he has no problem with change, as long it goes through the proper channels.

We have attached the letter here, but warning: you may find some of the language offensive.
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

Grand Giant - 10/5/2013 10:46 PM
0 Votes
The letter sent by the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan did not have any "racial slur" as this article suggests. Our purpose has not changed since our founding 148 years ago, which is to protect, defend and aid the widowed, child and disabled. We honor and celebrate the accomplishments and sacrifices made by our Ancestors, and we stand to protect and defend the US Constitution as it is written, our Christian faith, our American heritage and family values.

retecsid - 10/3/2013 11:24 PM
0 Votes
Maybe name it should be named, baggy pants high or thug mill central. Seems like the dcsb should be more worried about the fcat scores than the name. Oh wait, its the name that's why everything is f.... up

Ramnm08 - 10/3/2013 5:49 PM
1 Vote
"When I found out it was an actual KKK organization I wanted to burn the letter and wash my hands immediately," said school board member Jason Fischer. I am sure the Klansman that wrote the letter feels the same way towards Mr Fischer. How about this, you educate yourself (and others) before you spread your plague (better known as ignorance).

OLD SCHOOL - 10/3/2013 2:34 PM
2 Votes
Jacksonville has another school named after another Southern General, How about we change the name of it also. Let's just name every school in Jaxs with a number, Starting with 2 because no public school in Duval County is number 1. Next would be School Colors...Should be kinda easy ORANGE, GRAY, BLACK AND WHITE STRIPE, No School Mascot, Sports teams would be called a Number also, Football#2 Baseball#2, Basketball#2....Just like the school number. If the students that went to that school had a little bit more respect for them self and not worry about going to Taco Bell and having fights that they post on Youtube maybe things wouldn't be so bad. I had a son go to Forrest and everyday was a adventure when I went to pick him up, 75% Have no respect for them self much less anything or anyone else. It's a building that is made for teaching and learning. Don't matter who it's named after, I attended a few thing at that school over the 3 years my son went there, Football games were not one, because I never felt safe going after the one I did go to, Teach the kids, don't worry about the name of the person....And if you feel the need to change it MAKE IT AND ALL DUVAL SCHOOLS A NUMBER .......Because JACKSON Makes me feel the same way.

PetraGeorg - 10/3/2013 1:31 PM
0 Votes
wow, this still goes on, I wouldn't want anything named after a man who did anything like that and I am white. KKK needs to stay out of everyone's business and go burn something somewhere like those big pointy white hats... LOL

Sector7 - 10/3/2013 7:21 AM
4 Votes
While the KKK has morphed into a radical racist organization, the original intent was to benefit southern property owners under the leadership of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Therefore, honoring him as both a southern general and philanthropist is proper and there is no need to expend any resources on changing the name of the school under the hysteria of political spin and correctness. But that choice is up to the tax payers to decide if they want to waste their educational resources on trivial matters.

tlynn - 10/2/2013 11:58 PM
2 Votes
Curious>>>Why is this meeting being held in Mandarin???? Why not at Forrest, where all the controversy lies? What are we afraid of?
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