Nathan B. Forrest High School name change faces crucial week

Dec 10, 2013
Roger Weeder

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — This week Nathan B. Forrest High School is sampling students and getting more community feedback to see whether there is support or not for a name change.

The school is named after Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest.

An online survey initiated this fall that drew national interest focused on the history of Forrest who was one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan. Proponents of a name change say its time for change; opponents argue that Forrest is part of Southern history and that the man distanced himself from the organization he help found.

Jim Shillinglaw opposes the name change.

"The people of Westside of Jacksonville where I live want to keep the name they don’t want to change it. The other people from outside want to come in and make it a political agenda," Shillinglaw said.

Omotayo Richmond sees things differently.

"We support change. We are moving the whole country is moving in the direction and all of this old paradigm of the south separate from the north and the west separate from the east. They are all melting together. We are one country," Richmond said.

This past weekend, people who live in the Forrest attendance zone had a chance to answer a survey at the school. Duval County Schools could not provide a number yet about how many people have participated. Forrest alumni who live out-of-town had to have their response post marked by Monday.

Tuesday evening there is a community meeting at the school offering people another chance to discuss a name change.

On Wednesday, students will hold a panel discussion when the school day starts and then vote.

All survey results are expected to be tabulated and forward to the superintendent on Thursday.

The Duval County School Board has scheduled a special meeting for December 16 to consider the name change.

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