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Fla. Officials Remove KKK Name from School

5:15 PM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Florida (AP) - A Jacksonville high school named in 1959 after a former Confederate general and the co-founder of the Ku Klux Klan has a new name, ending a decades-long debate over the issue.

The Duval County School Board voted Tuesday night to change Nathan B. Forrest High to Westside High, to reflect the neighborhood.

The Florida Times-Union reported that the vote was unanimous and drew no discussion from board members.

A school advisory council had asked the board to change the name in 2007, but then-board members voted 5-2 against the change.

New school board rules prohibit naming schools after people.

Joan Miller Cooper, an alumna who has advocated keeping the old school name, told the school board that the name Westside is too closely associated with the Westside Mafia gang.

The removal of the names of key Confederate figures, some of whom participated in the early days of the Ku Klux Klan, is trending through the South and other parts of the U.S.

For years, communities have been trying, sometimes successfully, to change names of schools, parks and other facilities because they represented Confederate leaders and ideals. But many defend the names, arguing they commemorate the South's heritage, not racism.

The name of the Jacksonville school has been a source of controversy for decades, with school officials continuously refusing to change it despite numerous protests. Opponents of the name change told the school board it would be a waste of money, based on history that may be inaccurate.

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