KKK leader sent letter to school board urging them not to change the school name
Ty Richmond organized petition on change.org to change name of school, 117,000 signatures after five weeks
Board member Jason Fischer called town hall meeting to discuss budget and will hear from constituents about the possible name change
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Jacksonville man's petition to rename Forrest High School has more than 117,000 signatures, and he will be at a town hall meeting Thursday night to deliver them to board member Jason Fischer.
Fischer called the town hall meeting to discuss the school budget, but also wants to hear what his constituents think of a possible name change.
"Overwhelming, it was overwhelming."
That was Ty Richmond's reaction to the response to his petition on Change.org, urging that Nathan Bedford Forrest High School be renamed.
More than 117,000 signatures signed it as of Wednesday afternoon, 2,000 from the First Coast area.
The school is named for a Confederate General, who many historians name as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
"It advocates hate. I think anytime that you have the opportunity to change something and you don't, it is like you are promoting it. So I want to change the name, to anybody that is positive, somebody that is uplifting to the community ."
School board member Jason Fischer is one of seven board members who received a letter from a leader of the Ku Klux Klan, urging them not to change the name of the school.
The letter states:
"I would again encourage and the school board to take a decisive stand to protect the name of the school based on true historical facts surrounding this valiant man of honor and not let the inaccuracies portrayed in a petition, or the unfortunate lack of knowledge of those who signed it sway that decision."
It was signed DLW, an Imperial Kaltrop of the Ku Klux Klan.
"I was shocked and outraged," said Fischer. "I almost burned the letter and washed my hands immediately. In 2013 to get communications from a hate group is just unacceptable."
Richmond had this response to the letter from the KKK leader to the school board:
"I am glad you showed your head, so that people know they really exist, this is not some ancient organization that is in the past, to be forgotten about, they are alive and well today."
Forrest High School is in school board member Connie Hall's district. She's been asked by the school board to survey those at the school, parents, those in the community to find out where they stand on a possible name change, and report back to the school board at the end of October.
Richmond says he would like the school to be named after another general, General Colin Powell.
One other name being tossed about is Scott Speicher, the Desert Storm hero who attended the school and went on to be a Navy pilot. Speicher was the first person shot down during the war with Iraq.
First Coast News