Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Confederate Advocates Try to Overturn Will of Council

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Confederate Advocates Try to Overturn Will of Council

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

Those who insist on the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan being immortalized on a high school here are doing his legacy proud. They aren't giving up without a fight.

And neither should the people who know that the name Nathan Bedford Forrest needs to be shelved and not celebrated.

A local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is reacting to the outcome of a School Advisory Council vote to rename Forrest High School with the same stubbornness that their forbears reacted to the outcome of the Civil War.

They aren't letting it go.

A lawyer for the group has filed an inquiry questioning, among other things, the makeup of the advisory council and the legitimacy of its members to serve, as well as other trivialities such as records of excused absences.

So the Duval County School Board, in an act that smacks of caution and cowardice, has put off voting on the matter until July - so that the concerns can be investigated.

The people who support a new name shouldn't let up. To do so means to give those who are obsessed with keeping the slave trader and Klan leader's name on the school - and all the intolerance and oppression that it symbolizes - more of a chance to win.

That would be a shame.

The move to rename Forrest High - an effort spearheaded by Steven Stoll, an adjunct social sciences professor - was a monthslong effort carried out under the direction of the school system's staff, not a fly-by-night one.

I've heard from people who believe that the issue of renaming Forrest High - a school that was named after the Confederate general in 1959 as a way of opposing school desegregation - is a trivial one that is diverting too much attention from the students there who are struggling academically.

But they're wrong.

Progress is slow because there are white people like the Forrest apologists who have grown used to black people having no history and accepting the disrespect that comes their way on a daily basis.

Some believe that black people owe it to them to ignore that disrespect and accept their invisibility for the sake of keeping the peace.

On the other hand are black people, like the ones who haven't been to a School Board meeting or written a letter urging that the name be changed, who have learned how to blunt that disrespect with denial. …

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