For the love of God, Southerners, enough already:
A Florida school opened in honour of a murderous Ku Klux Klan leader is refusing to change its name despite a high-profile campaign by the community.This isn't the fitst time an effort to rename the school has been shot down. It last happened in 2008:
Nathan Bedford Forrest High School was named after the first Grand Wizard of the KKK who as a Confederate General during the Civil War reportedly oversaw the systematic slaughter of some 200 black soldiers.
The school opened in 1959 with white students only and was given the name because white civic leaders wanted to protest a court decision calling for the integration of public schools.
Today, however, more than half of the students are African American.
A petition with around 75,000 signatures is now urging the Duval County School District (DCSD) to change the name to help heal racial division in the community....
But the DCSD says the process for changing the name ultimately rests with the school board so it doesn't matter how many people sign the petition....
After hearing about three hours of public comments, Duval County School Board members voted 5-2 to the retain the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School. The board's two black members cast the only votes to change the name....A name change was also rejected in 1999.
Many urged a name change, saying the Forrest name was an insult.
"Nathan Bedford Forrest was part of the Ku Klux Klan, no matter how you put it. Nathan Bedford Forrest needs to be changed," said Stanley Scott, who is black.
But several spoke favorably of the general, saying the perceptions that Forrest was an evil man who ordered the massacre of Union troops were incorrect.
June Cooper, who graduated from Forrest in 1970, said some people wanted to wipe out Southern history.
"He was a good man," said Cooper, who is White. "He was a military genius."
Wikipedia reports that the name of the school was suggested in 1959 by the Daughters of the Confederacy. The Washington Post notes that this isn't the only school named after Forrest -- there's also one in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, his birthplace.
Removing Forrest's name from something can be a real struggle. Earlier this year, the city of Memphis voted to rename three city parks -- Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park, and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. The vote had to be consducted in haste, so the city wouldn't run afoul of legislation at the state level that would have protected the names:
The "Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2013" bill, already introduced in the state legislature, would prohibit name changes to any "statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, plaque, historic flag display,school, street, bridge,building, park preserve, or reserve which has been erected for, or named or dedicated in honor of, any historical military figure,historical military event, military organization, or military unit" on public property....But the names were changed. In response, the Klan held a rally in Memphis, and the city now faces a lawsuit.
Um, folks? You lost. Get over it. You're Americans now.