Public discusses possible Forrest HS name change

Public debates over Nathan B. Forrest's past

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The long-time debate over a Jacksonville school's name intensified Monday night at Forrest High school. A petition was put together to change the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School, and now that issue is being looked at the by the school's student advisory council.

Monday night was a chance for the public to sound off about the issue over Nathan B. Forrest High School's name. Some of the Forrest High alumni who attended Monday's meeting said changing the school's name is a debate that has been going on for decades.

"Let's quit haggling over a name, a name's not going to do anything," said Forrest alumnus, Gary Bangle. "Let's just get an education."

The push to change the name has intensified with a petition drive and the school's student advisory council looking into whether to propose the name change to the school board. The controversy stems from Nathan B. Forrest's past involvement as the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.

Many of the supporters of Forrest High's name told Channel 4 that Forrest's past with the KKK is not accurate. Some even characterize the man as a civil rights leader of the era.

"We have schools all over this county that are named for people who did not do very good things. But for Forrest, his slaves were free, well actually, he freed them before the war was over," said Forrest alumna, Joan Cooper.

"We need to stop the insanity that is running rampant in Jacksonville, Florida," said Southern Christian Leadership's Dr. Juan Gray. "We need to do something by placing this community in some saneness. We need to teach kids to stop living in the past and look forward to the future."

At the next meeting, the student advisory council said they will consider whether to take a proposed name change to the school board.