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Jacksonville community tells school board: “No KKK High School”

By Fernando Figueroa |
November 7, 2013
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Dave Schnieder at rally to change the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High
Above:
Dave Schnieder at rally to change the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Members of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition
A member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists demands the name be changed
Right:
Members of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition hold signs outside the Duval County School Board office (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Left:
A member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists demands the name be changed (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Jacksonville, FL – About 30 residents of Jacksonville rallied and spoke out at a Duval County School Board meeting on Nov. 5 in favor of changing the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High. Nathan Bedford Forrest was the first Imperial Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and members of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition (JPC) have been gathering community support to change the name of the local high school named after this monster for some time.

Before the meeting of the school board, members of JPC held signs and rallied outside the building despite poor weather. Signs read “Change the name,” and “No KKK High School.” Activists were spirited as they talked to local media and chanted “What do we want – name change! When do we want it – now!” There was only one lonely person counter-protesting the rally and standing in favor of keeping the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest for the school.

When it came time for the school board to meet, activists filtered into the room and signed up for public comment. The vast majority of the public commentary section was filled with activists speaking in favor of changing the name. The few racists who spoke in favor of keeping the name were often laughed at. One person was escorted out of the room by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for referring to black people with a racial slur.

Members of JPC spoke passionately about the need to fight the long standing racist name of the school, including Teamster member and community activist Dave Schneider, who urged the school board to “be on the right side of history and change the name.” Lance Stoll of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition handed the school board well over 1000 surveys indicating the desire of the community to change the name of Nathan Bedford Forest High School. Opponents to changing the name brought a gold letter opener with Nathan Bedford Forrest's likeness and confederate Civil War medals from the 1800s as “supporting evidence” for their side of the story. Towards the end of the meeting, African American school board member Dr. Connie Hall read a request to "initiate the renaming of Nathan B. Forrest High School."

The meeting ended with a resounding victory when the school board decided to call for a special meeting on Friday, Nov. 8, at 1:00 p.m. to move forward with a vote to change the name. Community organizers are optimistic about the outcome of that vote.

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