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Kids miss class to support Forrest High School name change

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Updated: 12/06/2013 5:34 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Several people came out to a west side street corner holding signs to support a name change to Nathan B Forrest High School.

There were more kids than adults at the rally and they missed school to be there.

A nod, some say, to the leadership of the civil rights era, when kids also were a part of the protests that changed the country.

"This is real education right here," said Opio Sokoni, with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "Not just reading in books but actually living it."

Sokoni said even though students going to the school probably don't know who Nathan B. Forrest was, he says it's time to recognize the need to change the name.

"People say, 'Wow. You guys in Jacksonville, ya'll support the Klan, don't you? Ya'll got a school named after the first member.' That's embarrassing."

Others say the name has no effect on the students who go there or anyone else.

"I think the KKK died out years ago," said Yogi Springer. "It hasn't had a negative effect since they had the name on (the school), so why (change it) now?"

Forrest has ignited controversy on both sides of the issue. He has been considered the founder and first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, however, he is also later said to have distanced himself from the organization. As a Civil War general, he was charged with war crimes at Fort Pillow for ordering the killing of black soldiers.

"He was a war criminal, the founder of the KKK, you can't actually spin that in a good light," said Jessie Ruth, who supports the cause.

You change one name, you might as well change them all," Springer says. "You can't be racist against one because he's a klan member when we've got other schools that are named after black people and white people. Race
shouldn't be an issue here.

There will be 15 hours of rallies to change the name at the school, on Friday from 3 p.m. - 9 p.m. and Saturday from 8 p.m. - 5 p.m. The final collection of community and alumni surveys are due to the superintendent next week.
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