Michelle Nance graduated from Nathan Forrest High School in 1987 and told Channel 4 that she wants her kids to graduate from the same school with the same name.
“Our history made us who we are, that’s our heritage, our background, it’s who we are,” said Nance. “It’s just like Robert E. Lee, Ed White, Nathan Forrest.”
Nathan Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate army and he also served as the first Grand Wizard of the KKK, before distancing himself from the Klan. Some parents say it’s all part of history, but an online petition calling for a name change is gaining popularity.
“There are other people that we can look forward to, more positive. It’s not about hate, so to name someone to glorify it is absolutely wrong,” said Kim Mower.
“One thing I’ve been talking a lot about is the need to modernize Jacksonville,” Dr. Nikolai Vitti told Channel 4 Tuesday night. “If we want folks to come here, whether it’s business, it’s high level employees to Jacksonville, names of schools, names of parks, it all matters.”
Vitti, the Duval County School Superintendent, told Channel 4 that a formal request for a name change hasn't been brought to the school board, but if it did, Vitti said organizers will have his support.
“It needs to go through the leadership council at the school level, work through that process, and then ultimately given to the school board for a recommended change,” said Vitti.
Parents and students who were at Forrest High School Tuesday said they are torn on the issue.
“Maybe they shouldn’t do anything, this is part of our history, maybe they should keep it,” said Melissa Chouse.
The petition can be found on change.org.