Forrest High School: The Value of Truth in History
The recent debate on the name change of Nathan B. Forrest High
School displays beyond a doubt that oral history and historical facts
are lacking in Jacksonville.
The discussions, analysis, debates, emotional outbursts, and historical
sentiments show that on all sides there are opinions and ideologies
that come into play. “Not all truth is truth, not all understanding comes
in clarity and not all visionaries have a vision for all the people equally.”
History in too many cases is determined by those that are the conquers,
invaders, destroyers, colonists, settlers and those that have the power
to shape and mold minds. If we were not to realistically analyze the history
of Native Americans many would believe that they were savages that
needed to be exterminated, if we were not to research history for the truth
Jewish Holocaust would be lost and effectively denied. What if the
Nazi’s did win World War II do you think they would stop at the Jews,
Gypsies and those at that time the LGBT communities? What if the
Japanese had won along with the Nazi’s and ruled the Pacific, do you
think their “Empire” would have tried to enslave and divided
the United States of America?
The ongoing debates even after the school board decision to change the
name of the High School should be an indication that there needs to be
further discussion on the images we project and honor to our children.
The Heritage and History of the diverse cultures need to be analyzed and
discussed in dept and honestly. The Race Relation “Study Circles” are a
good area to begin to open another dialogue of understanding,
acceptance, respect, tolerance and even historical facts.
Forrest; a Confederate general was a founding leader of the Ku Klux Klan,
a slave owner and seller, an accused Civil War criminal. This history should
have been examined years ago and the name changed. The historical facts
are relevant to the growth of the Jacksonville community and even opens
doors for global growth economically and intellectually. Showing to
the world that Jacksonville is not embracing a past of racism, hate,
violence and acceptance of the stereotypical ideas of Southern mental
slowness and behind the times thinking.
When I first moved to Florida in 1988 to teach, walking downtown at
The Landing for a community event, a young white boy standing next to
his family with Confederate shirts, made the comment pointing to me and my
children, “Look daddy there goes the nigg***” my children at the time were
young in age, this required me to talk to them about race, race relations and
racism. I still vividly remember that moment. The discussion about race
and racism is still needed in the 21st century.
Respected scholar, historian, and Civil Rights activists Rodney Hurst
knowledge should be honored and respected and others. His oral history
and the understanding of not just history, but the intricate connections of
key historical figures that made decisions and implemented actions is vital
to understand the direction of history in Jacksonville, Florida and the
South. The dialogue should not stop here but be expanded. The oral
histories of African Americans should be shared with students in schools
particularly in majority African American populations.
What is the fear of educated and intellectual Black students, that Black students
will rise up in violence or they will wake up finally and truly be the scholars they
need to be, graduating at 100% not the shameful numbers now; which is more
dangerous or needed in Jacksonville, an educated African American community
united and intelligent or one that is divided by education, economics and cultural
misunderstanding. Raines versus Ribault had thousands in attendance for a
football game why can’t these numbers be at PTA meetings, School Advisory
Meetings or School Board meetings, where are the priorities?
Civil rights advocate and NAACP representative Rodney Hurst spoke in favor
of changing Forrest High School’s name because he understood the historical
significance and events of the time that too many others either deny or are still
caught in the past of a heritage and history of hate, racism, death and destruction.
Every culture has its “Darkside” every culture has it corner of history that they
would like to shut the doors of history on, lock it and throw away the key.
It becomes dangerous when a society, culture or people only pick and choose
what they want to see and pass to its youth. Would there be a high school in
Jacksonville or any other southern city named after a Black man or woman that
enslaved whites, would there be an elementary school named after a Hispanic
that created an organization of hate, fear, terror and murder (Why is there not a
Hispanic school to celebrate our Hispanic and Latino population?). Would there
be a middle school representing the savagery of World War II or Vietnam, I
think not. Give equal celebration to those that are builders of men and women,
supporting the homeless and starving children. Supporting Human Rights for all
even the LGBT members of this community. The Constitution is a legal and binding
document for all citizens of these United States of America let us celebrate and
remember who promoted life and unity, but be cautious of those who
created death, destruction, slavery and murder.
Forrest High Name Change
Nathan Bedford Forrest, Racist Despot