A school board in Jacksonville, Fla. has voted unanimously to change the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School after the community decided that having a school named after a former KK Grand Wizard and Confederate general was not a great look. The Duval County School Board received a petition with over 160,000 signatures protesting the school's current name.
According to the petition's orchestrator, Omotayo Richmond:
[The school is] named in honor of a Confederate general who infamously slaughtered Black Union soldiers who'd already surrendered and who was a founding member of the original Ku Klux Klan. The school got its name in 1959, when white civic leaders wanted to protest a court decision that called for integrating public schools.
The Florida Times-Union reports that the roughly 1,300-person school is 61.6 percent African-American. 64 percent of 1,035 students surveyed wanted to change the name, 36 percent opposed the measure. Five years ago, the school board addressed the controversial name, but it was retained following a 5-2 vote. The most recent vote was unanimous.
Because a name change also necessitates replacing signage, uniforms, and even the gym floor, the district is estimated to spend $400,000 on the change. However, that number is not coming directly out of the school's budget.
The school's superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, said that the next step, choosing a name, would begin shortly after New Year's and the name change will take effect on July 1. A student at the high school back in 1959, when the name was first decided upon, told The Washington Post that the student body overwhelmingly supported the name Valhalla High School.