… to remove or retain his name on this Jacksonville high school. This is a touchy subject, and a difficult decision for the school board. There’s no arguing his military fame, and Forrest’s reportedly good record of race relations is forever marred by his slave trader past and his troops’ execrable conduct at Fort Pillow.
Sadly, most of these arguments are less about the past than the present, trying to cling to a status quo which does little to help heal the war’s scars. We’ve had 150 years to come up with less controversial heroes to eponymize – surely Jacksonville has a local hero or two to immortalize?
Changing the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School has come up several times. In 2008, the vote to keep the name broke along racial lines with two black members voting to change the name and five white board members voting against.
This time, a Jacksonville parent, Omotayo Richmond, took up the cause on social media with a change.org petition signed by more than 176,000 people, generating widespread media coverage and support from civil rights groups.
“Now is the time to right a historical wrong. African-American Jacksonville students shouldn’t have to attend a high school named for someone who slaughtered and terrorized their ancestors for one more school year,” Richmond wrote in his petition appeal.