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Nathan B. Forrest High School students to vote on name change

1:17 PM, Dec 11, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Students at a Jacksonville school are set to vote on a controversial issue on Wednesday.

They're deciding whether their school, Nathan Bedford Forrest High School, should have a new name.
Right now, it's named in honor of the first grand wizard of the KKK.

A Confederate flag greeted students Wednesday outside Forrest High school on the Westside.

"We're trying to show support for the school," said Jim Shillinglaw.

It's the latest demonstration in an ongoing debate about the school's name.

RELATED: Renaming Nathan Bedford Forrest High School discussed at October town hall meeting

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general in the Civil War and the first grand wizard of the KKK, but he also later distanced himself from the organization.

On Tuesday night, a town hall was held to let people voice their opinions.

One man whose online petition ignited the latest renaming push says Forrest's name is synonymous with disrespect.

"It's very disrespectful. He was the first grand wizard of the KKK," said Omotayo Richmond.

But as students cast their votes, supporters of the name are trying to make their case.

"We're trying to show them we like the school and they should keep the name. They have nothing to be embarrassed of," Shillinglaw said.

This small group said the name should remain intact for both patriotic and financial reasons.

RELATED: Duval County School Board votes to discuss name change

"We think the school board should spend the money they would spend on the change on school instruments. The schools need repairs," Shillinglaw said.

Ultimately, the decision comes to the school board which is expected to decide Monday in what's sure to be a decisive vote.

"I'm hopeful we'll get a new name. Westside High sounds good to me," Richmond said.

First Coast News

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