Jacksonville high school named after KKK grand wizard will change its name

"I'm very encouraged. Jacksonville is too much of a beautiful city to have that ugly blemish," says community member.
By Evan Bleier Follow @itishowitis Contact the Author   |   Dec. 17, 2013 at 10:16 AM

A Jacksonville, Fla., high school named after the Ku Klux Klan's first grand wizard will be changing its name after a unanimous vote by the Duval County School Board.

Nathan Bedford Forrest High School will hopefully have a new name by the board’s next scheduled meeting on Jan. 7.

Students will start voting on Tuesday and Wednesday between two proposed names -- Westside High and Firestone High -- and alumni and community members will vote from Thursday through Saturday.

"I'm very encouraged. Jacksonville is too much of a beautiful city to have that ugly blemish," said Omotayo "Ty" Richmond, the creator of the petition.

The school was racially integrated in 1971, and now more than half of students are black. School officials voted about five years ago to keep the name, but those officials have since been replaced.

The name change will come with a $400,000 price tag because of the cost of new uniforms, but Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti thinks it’s worth it. "Now that the board has spoken, I believe it's time to re-engage the community on what the name should be and if there should be donations to pay for the cost.”

He’s not the only one who supports the change.

"We need to make today about honoring the future, which is our children," said board member Jason Fischer.

[WTEV 47] [Orlando Sentinel]

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