A school board in Jacksonville, Fla. has voted unanimously to change the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School after the community decided that having a school named after a former KK Grand Wizard and Confederate general was not a great look. The Duval County School Board received a petition with over 160,000 signatures protesting the school's current name.
According to the petition's orchestrator, Omotayo Richmond:
[The school is] named in honor of a Confederate general who infamously slaughtered Black Union soldiers who'd already surrendered and who was a founding member of the original Ku Klux Klan. The school got its name in 1959, when white civic leaders wanted to protest a court decision that called for integrating public schools.
The Florida Times-Union reports that the roughly 1,300-person school is 61.6 percent African-American. 64 percent of 1,035 students surveyed wanted to change the name, 36 percent opposed the measure. Five years ago, the school board addressed the controversial name, but it was retained following a 5-2 vote. The most recent vote was unanimous.
Because a name change also necessitates replacing signage, uniforms, and even the gym floor, the district is estimated to spend $400,000 on the change. However, that number is not coming directly out of the school's budget.
The school's superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, said that the next step, choosing a name, would begin shortly after New Year's and the name change will take effect on July 1. A student at the high school back in 1959, when the name was first decided upon, told The Washington Post that the student body overwhelmingly supported the name Valhalla High School.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.