JACKSONVILLE — A Florida school board voted late Monday night to keep the name of a Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader at a majority black high school, despite opposition from a black board member who said the school's namesake was a terrorist and racist.
After hearing about three hours of public comments, the Duval County School Board voted 5-2 to the retain the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School.
The board's two black members cast the only votes to change the name.
"(Forrest) was a terrorist and a racist," argued board member Brenda Priestly Jackson, who is black.
"It is time to turn the page and get beyond where we are," said Betty Burney, the board chairman and the board's other black member.
The board listened to passionate arguments from those on both sides. More than 140 people crowded into the meeting room, with another 20 watching the meeting on a television in the lobby.
Many urged a name change, saying the Forrest name was an insult.
But several spoke favorably of the general, saying the perceptions that Forrest was an evil man who ordered the massacre of Union troops were incorrect.
Forrest High School, which has received two consecutive "F" grades on state assessment tests, opened as an all-white school in the 1950s.
But now more than half Forrest High's students are black.