A Jacksonville, Fla., parent has started a petition on change.org asking that a school district to change the name of a high school named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and the first “grand wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan, the Washington Post reports. The petition has accumulated about 75,000 signatures so far.
And, according to Marsha Oliver, chief of communications for the Duval County School District, it doesn’t matter how many people sign the petition because the process for changing a school’s name is community-based and the ultimate decision resides with the school board.
The school board was asked by the School Advisory Council in April 2007 to change the name but the panel voted 5-2 against it. The board’s membership has changed since then.
The school was named after Forrest when it opened with white students only in 1959, a name suggestion that came from an organization called the Daughters of the Confederacy. Now, more than half of the school’s students are African American.
Forrest is known in the pages of history books for slaughtering black Union soldiers who had already surrendered. The school got its name in 1959, when white civic leaders wanted to protest a court decision that called for integrating public schools.
Read more at the Washington Post.