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Thousands fight to change name of local high school

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Updated: 9/04/2013 8:34 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Confederate Army general, grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and namesake of a local high school.

"Honestly, I didn't even know it was named after him," one student said.

Thousands of people are taking to the Web, demanding change.

With each click on the online petition, petitioners are getting closer and closer to their 75,000 signature goal.

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

We wanted to know if people agreed, so we hit the streets.

'Is this an offensive name?" we asked.

"Yes, it's offensive," Osterious Lewis said.

"It's America. You can express your opinion and say whatever you want to say, you know," William Lott said.

"I wake up every morning and say, OK, I'm going to Forrest high school. I don't think hey, I'm going to the KKK-named school," Selina Pretridge said.

This isn't the first time there's been an outrcry.  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 says he has no problem with change, as long it goes through the proper channels.

Students tell Action News they understand the concern, but just want to go to class, cheer on their Rebels and not have to worry about the chatter around them.

"The name doesn't determine how the school is. It's just a name for the school. I think it's really, really stupid," De'jia Boatwright said.

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therev - 9/12/2013 6:18 PM
0 Votes
How do you know General Forrest was in the KKK? As far as I remember from my U.S. history the KKK wore sheets and no one knew who was in the KKK. If you feel this way about him, why not change all schools named after Civil War general's. There must be hundreds of them in every state. Speaking of name's. Look at all the paper work that it will produce. My diploma would need to be changed. Where would sponsor's get money to change all the sports uniforms, in today economy situation? If I was a sponsor I would stop supporting the teams.

historian1 - 9/7/2013 8:08 AM
0 Votes
General Forrest was a Hero and he still is, a true leader who often charged enemy ranks ahead of his men, who personally paid to take care of his men even if the government of the CSA could not. He was wounded numerous times and kept on fighting. This is a man we should all treat as a hero north and south. General Sherman even stated there is no finer soldier then General Forrest. It would be nice to have such a hero instead of some druggy sport star or some gang banger rapper. People talk about the Klan, well folks what would you do if say the UN came to this country invalidated your votes, installed a puppet government seized your property, allowed rapes and murders by their people, beat you, lynched your family and burned your home? I would hope you would fight back against that, and killing happens in war. So how do we as a public who conveniently forgets what we did to the people of the south how do we have the right to condemn them for fighting back? So what do we have now? A bunch of carpetbaggers coming down south then telling the folks they can't have heros they dont approve of. They haven't got the right. This northerner says fight for your heritage Dixie or we wont have any history to speak of. The government already has written George Washington and Thomas Jefferson out of history. I am done with these black activists trying to rewrite american history!

Lady Val - 9/6/2013 4:33 PM
0 Votes
Your poll is wrongly worded. There is a great deal of dispute about whether or not Forrest was EVER part of the klan. He was cleared by a Congressional committee who questioned him on that and the so-called "massacre" at Fort Pillow though Sherman wanted him hanged. Forrest also did a great deal to further the fortunes of blacks after the war and was considered a good friend to many. I'm afraid you've chosen the wrong man to label as anti-black.

RadarGort - 9/5/2013 2:29 PM
0 Votes
Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest was the greatest Calvary Commander of the War Between the States. He is a Southern Patriot, a Southern Hero and an American Hero. His leadership Abilities are to be admired. His defense of his homeland against much larger invading, destructive Union forces should be remembered in history to inspire future generations of Americans. History books are full of the dashing and daring raids, skirmishes and battles that General Forrest and his men were in. History tells of the bravery of Forrest and his men who served with him. Sadly too many "so-called educators" and civil rights advocates will not take the time to read/study true history. They would rather relish in their ignorance and further spread their shallow preconceived ideas to others. These people want to Suppress and Destroy the Heritage and Culture of the Southern people. Sir William Wallace (1221 AD) of Braveheart Fame once commented that "Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevents their history, and denies them their symbols, has sewn the seed of its own destruction." The South has a proud and honorable heritage and we should not let it be suppressed or destroyed.

Grandpa - 9/5/2013 1:10 PM
0 Votes
Is there any way the school board can make a permanent resolution to this tiresome name change issue? Every few years the people of this community who view General Forrest as a Civil War hero have to listen to this diatribe about a name change.If this is ever allowed,it will open the door to changing the name of all the schools named after Confederate Officers.(P.S.,General Forrest disbanded the same KKK group he founded for their mistreatment of blacks).

FirstLady CSA - 9/5/2013 1:07 PM
0 Votes
Where are the 1000's who support the name change? I do not see any proof of it here. I have stated facts and given General Forrest's own words showing how wrong and ignorant these people are. No one had refuted any of my facts? I think the paper is trying to sell more papers rather than addressing the real issues of the community.

FirstLady CSA - 9/5/2013 1:26 AM
1 Vote
Asked if he knew of any men or combination of men violating the law or preventing the execution of the law: Gen Forest answered emphatically, 'No.' (A Committee member brought up a 'document' suggesting otherwise, the 1868 newspaper article from the "Cincinnati Commercial". That was their "evidence", a news article.) Forrest stated ...any information he had on the Klan was information given to him by others. Sen. Scott asked, 'Did you take any steps in organizing an association or society under that prescript (Klan constitution)?' Forrest: 'I DID NOT' Forrest further stated that '..he thought the Organization (Klan) started in middle Tennessee, although he did not know where. It is said I started it.' Asked by Sen. Scott, 'Did you start it, Is that true?' Forrest: 'No Sir, it is not.' Asked if he had heard of the Knights of the white Camellia, a Klan-like organization in Louisiana, Forrest: 'Yes, they were reported to be there.' Senator: 'Were you a member of the order of the white Camellia?' Forrest: 'No Sir, I never was a member of the Knights of the white Camellia.' Asked about the Klan : Forrest: 'It was a matter I knew very little about. All my efforts were addressed to stop it, disband it, and prevent it....I was trying to keep it down as much as possible.' Forrest: 'I talked with different people that I believed were connected to it, and urged the disbandment of it, that it should be broken up.'" The following article appeared in the New York times June 27th, "Washington, 1871. Gen Forrest was before the Klu Klux Committee today, and his examination lasted four hours. After the examination, he remarked than the committee treated him with much courtesy and respect."

FirstLady CSA - 9/5/2013 1:24 AM
1 Vote
In Defense of Gen. Forrest Gen. Forrest is the subject of a very old hoax that has been around since the 1860s. There is no truth to the rumor that he was ever a 'leader of the kkk' or that he was a racist. When he was called to appear at the 1871 US Congressional Committee that investigated the charges of his rumored involvement with that group, he was building a railroad with most of his workers being blacks, whom he paid better wages than other companies were paying whites. He worked to promote civil rights for blacks, and for all men; his speech to the Pole Bearers is proof of that. In 1871, Gen. Forrest was called before a congressional Committee. Forrest testified before Congress personally over four hours . Here's part of the transcript of Forrest's testimony to that 1871 hearing: "The reports of Committees, House of Representatives, second session, forty-second congress," P. 7-449. (see link here ) "The primary accusation before this board is that Gen. Forrest was a founder of The Klan, and its first Grand Wizard, So it shall address those accusations first." Forrest took the witness stand June 27th,1871. Building a railroad in Tennessee at the time, Gen Forrest stated he 'had done more , probably than any other man, to suppress these violence and difficulties and keep them down, had been vilified and abused in the (news) papers, and accused of things I never did while in the army and since. He had nothing to hide, wanted to see this matter settled, our country quiet once more, and our people united and working together harmoniously.' Asked if he knew of any men or combination of men violating the law or preventing the execution of the law: Gen Forest answered emphatically, 'No.' (A Committee member brought up a 'document' suggesting otherwise, the 1868 newspaper article from the "Cincinnati Commercial". That was their "evidence", a news article.) Forrest stated ...any information he had on the Klan was information given to hi

FirstLady CSA - 9/5/2013 1:20 AM
0 Votes
Among the statements he made that day: "I came here with jeers of some white people who think what I am doing is wrong. We were born on the same soil, breathe the same air, live in the same land, and why should we not be brothers and sisters. I believe I can exert some influence ... and shall do all in my power to elevate every man and to depress none. I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms and wherever you are capable of going." He apologized for having no formal speech, but continued, " Many things have been said about me that are wrong, and which black and white persons here who stood by me through the war can contradict." "I feel that you are free men, I am a free man, and we can do as we please. I came here as a friend and whenever I can serve any of you I will do so. We have one union, one flag, one country; therefore, let us stand together. Although we differ in color, we should not differ in sentiment." "Do your duty as citizens, and if any are oppressed, I will be your friend. I thank you for the flowers, and assure you that I am with you in heart and hand." It should be noted that both black and white soldiers fought under Forrest against the North. Many were in attendance at this Memphis address. When Forrest's cavalry abdicated in May of 1865, the muster included 65 black soldiers. Forrest described those gentlemen as soldiers amid his finest. Yes, Forrest was a Southern general whose war strategies were unmatched. Yes, the war that began over states rights brought forth a welcome transition to the civil rights we are so thankful for today. For more info on Gen. Forrest, see Memphis' first White Civil Rights Advocate

FirstLady CSA - 9/5/2013 1:18 AM
0 Votes
Forrest's Speech to the Pole Bearers Forrest (1821-1877) was a famous Southern military leader, a brilliant strategist and a gentleman who made his mark in what Southerners call the War of Northern Aggression. To paint every general on the losing side as a racist simply because you don't like the South is a travesty that the facts of history will knock down time and time again. Yes, Forrest was a great general in an unpopular war, but when the war ended, Forrest accepted the outcome and then sought reconciliation with those around him. He worked diligently to rebuild the New South and earnestly to generate employment for black Southerners. His leadership and character did not fade because the South had been defeated. Instead he used who he was, accepted the outcome, and used his fame and talents for others' good. At an early convention of the Pole-Bearers, whose beginnings prefaced the NAACP, it was Forrest who was invited to speak. History records no disrespect at the meeting; instead both the Pole-Bearers and Forrest behaved with mutual respect and decorum. He was the guest speaker, and historically the first white invited to be the keynote speaker. Forrest was asked because the group was said to have wanted to extend union and peace to others, but what happened in further actions was even more important. On July 4, 1875 the event began with a young black woman, the daughter of a leader of the Pole-Bearers, offering him a small bouquet of flowers signifying the peace intended. Forrest received the flowers and then spoke from his heart to the gathering. His actions and recorded words testify that this gentleman was in truth a civil rights advocate, a believer in the rights of all people.
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