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School name change debate sparks verbal attack

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Updated: 12/10/2013 11:58 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A war hero, a slave dealer and even a civil rights leader: Everyone at Tuesday's town hall meeting had their own idea of who Nathan Bedford Forrest really was.

"If you guys fight so vehemently to keep the name and if you do keep the name, let's get some instruments in the school for these kids," said Ty Richmond, the man who started the petition.

That thought actually gained support from the opposition, who made it known that spending $500,000 of taxpayer money on a name change might be better spent on establishing a school marching band.
"Just channel the funds to our kids. They're our future leaders," said one man.

The gloves came off when a local group was called upon for battle.

"Their political agenda is to attack anything confederate," said local historian Jim Shillinghaw. He called the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition a bunch of communists.

Action News later confronted him about that. "Ultra-liberal political organization that's actually being backed by the Communist party of Florida and has resolutions from the Communist party of the U.S. to attack Nathan Bedford Forrest and change the name," said Shillinghaw.

"It's particularly insulting to be called a Communist because my family actually fled a communist state in Cuba,"said Fernando Figueroa, member of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition.

Things got so heated that the board had to remind the audience what they came for.

"We're not going to quit until we make it right," said Figueroa.
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