Duval School Board takes 1st step toward changing school named after KKK member

Vote on name change for Nathan B. Forrest High School could happen Friday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Duval County School Board member has formally requested that the board consider changing the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School -- whose namesake was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

After weeks of debate and a parade of people spoke on both sides of the issue, Duval County School Board Member Connie Hall read a written request to "initiate the renaming of Nathan B. Forest (sic) High School" during Tuesday night's meeting, WJXT reports.

The school board could vote as early as Friday on an agenda item to authorize Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to begin the process.

There's been growing controversy over the name of Forrest High School over the last few months. Many people would like to see the school's name changed.

After Dr. Hall's letter was introduced during Tuesday night's meeting, the board voted to change their meeting on Friday this week, to a regular board meeting so they could vote on the motion to change the name of Forrest High School, rather than waiting for the school board's regular meeting in December.

DOCUMENT: Connie Hall's letter to Duval County School Board

WJXT reports the district said Monday night that the board could not take up the issue until the school's student advisory council decided whether they wanted a name change. The school board discussed the change after protestors showed up at the School board building Tuesday night protesting the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School.

"They talk about it as southern history and our heritage, and I've been a southerner for many generations and I do not want that being representative of our heritage in anyway," said Eleanor Wilson, who supports changing Forrest High School's name.

"I think it's a reflection of people not wanting to change tradition," said Wells Todd. "It's bound up in the exploitation and oppression of Africans."

Not everyone at Tuesday's protest wanted Forrest High's name to change.

"If you change the name, what is it really gonna change? Is it going to change the neighborhood or the surroundings? Change anything? No, change absolutely nothing," said Blair Swan.

Many people have called WJXT saying Nathan B. Forrest High's name shouldn't change. Monye Elvord, who now lives in Tallahassee, voiced her reasoning behind keeping the name the same.

Elvord said that not only is she a Forrest alumnae, but back in 1995, she was crowned as the first African American Miss Forrest.

"If there's something that needs to be done, it's focusing on the students and not a gentleman who was part of the confederacy, and for one year of his life was involved with the KKK," said Elvord.

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