A Florida school district has voted to change a high school name that honors a late Ku Klux Klan leader and slave trader.
Nathan B. Forrest High School, which is named for the Ku Klux Klan’s first Grand Wizard, will be renamed as something else, the Duval County Public School Board announced after an unanimous vote Monday, the Washington Post reports.
A Change.org petition signed by more than 160,000 people raised the issue, prompting a response from an “imperial kaltrop” of the KKK, who wrote a letter to the board asking them to keep the name, the Post reports. School officials spent almost a month seeking input from current and former students and community members about removing the name. The name change was first suggested in 2007 by the School Advisory Council, but the board struck down the proposal in a 5-2 vote.
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said politics played a part in the initial naming of the school in 1959.
“That was not the will of the students and considering the opinion of the students in this process I think it is an opportunity to give voice to students whose voices were not heard in the beginning and can certainly be heard now,” she said.
Vitti said students, alumni and community members will vote on a new name this week, most likely to be West Side High or Firestone High, the Florida Times-Union reports. The board is aiming to announce a new name at the next meeting Jan. 7.