Nathan Bedford Forrest has an interesting history. He was a slave trader before the Civil War, a member of the Confederate calvary during the war and a founder of the Klu Klux Klan after the war. At one point he was the KKK’s Emperial Grand Wizard in TN.
In response to the Supreme Court’s Brown V. Board of Education decision in 1954, the Daughters of the Confederacy pushed for the name. In 1959 it happened and the 2,300 all white students became members of the N.B. Forrest High School.
This is the second time a case against the name has come up. The first by a coach in 1999 who said the name was oppressive. The school board voted to keep the name.
In 2006 an argument against the name came to the school board again, but the board didn’t vote on it until now. In a 5-2 decision, with the only blacks on the board voting against it, the name withstood the challenge.
The school is now 54% black.
Brenda Jackson, who voted “no” said, “We had three hours of public comment, and I kid you not, you would have thought you’d gone back to some other place and time.”
Since the name of the school is here to stay, this is a great opportunity for the educators at the school to engage the students in discussions of not just slavery, but history. The teachers can put a name to what they’re teaching and make history interesting for the students.
The teachers can explain the way things were in the south and why the school, and others like it are named the way they are.
The teachers can teach how things have changed by using this past election as an example.
It’s time for the community to stop complaining and take advantage of this opportunity.