High School Name Debate Continues
POSTED: April 9, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A committee of teachers, parents and a student at Nathan Forrest High School voted on Monday night in favor of changing the school’s name.

Since the 1950s, the school on Firestone Road on the Westside has carried the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Critics though have been calling for a new name, pointing out that the famous Confederate general was also the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

For some the name brings back memories of inequality and hate. For others it’s the name of a great general.

"I think when you look at the racial makeup of this school, it’s insensitive to keep that name," said Forrest High School’s Advisory Board member James Caldwell.

Caldwell is one of eight members who voted to rename the school.

Parent and advisory board member Cathy Hilliard was one of the six board members who opposed a name change. She said students’ voices weren’t heard in Monday night’s election.

"I think a lot of them don’t care one way or the other. They don’t care about what happened years and years ago," Hilliard said.

In a survey 55 percent of the school’s students were against renaming the school and many more didn’t vote at all.

Either way, Principal Helene Kirkpatrick said a name change might be a change the school needs.

"It’s not bringing people together, and the mascot — if it’s not bringing people together, we should look at that also. Whatever we select needs to bring people together," Kirkpatrick said.

What the topic did bring together was a lot of opinions.

"What does alarm me is in this area there’s probably around 13 other schools named after southerners or Confederate generals. So, does it stop here or does it go to Lee High School next?" said Gordon Terry, who is against changing the name of the school.

Monday’s vote was non-binding. The next step in changing the name of the school is a school board vote.

Kirkpatrick said she asked that the school board take up the issue in May so that any changes can be made before the start of the next school year.

© 2007, Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc.

On The Web: http://www.news4jax.com/news/11592866/detail.html