Nathan Bedford Forrest High School Name Supporters
They're fighting a losing battle
As the Civil War split the country in two, so too has the decision to rename a Westside high school. Depending on which history books you read, Nathan Bedford Forrest, for whom Forrest High School was named, was a racist war criminal with links to the Ku Klux Klan, or a civil rights leader and victim of circumstance. Supporters of the first theory have been calling for the Duval County School Board to change the school’s name for years, while defenders of the second one maintain that Forrest’s name has been unjustly sullied and other Jacksonville “heroes,” including Andrew Jackson, are more reprehensible than Forrest. Earlier this year, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said he was in favor of renaming Forrest High School if the community showed its support. With an online petition called “No More KKK School,” more than 160,000 individuals did just that — though not all are from Northeast Florida. Earlier this month, Duval County School Board member Connie Hall formally requested the board initiate the name-change process, an action it unanimously approved at a separate meeting. Before making a final recommendation to the board, Vitti will solicit feedback from current and former students, faculty, the school’s PTA and advisory council and others. Detractors, who comprise a significantly smaller (or, at least, less-vocal) group, continue to grouse about the decision. They’d be wise to understand they’re fighting a losing battle, so to speak, and should devote their passion for history to another cause.