Pic of the Day

This week the physical process of changing the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest to Westside High School began in Jacksonville, Florida.

Nathan Bedford Forrest High School

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

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14 comments… add one
  • Forester Jun 23, 2014 @ 19:05

    Here in Norfolk, we have a rotting and dilapidated “JEB Stuart Elementary” that closed around 2007. As the building rots away, people debate what to do with it. It was named J.E.B. Stuart when it was built in the 1920s.

    I was walking past it the other day, and thinking about whether names like that should be kept or changed. I came up with this list of 5 questions.

    1. Is the name inclusive, honoring a person that all residents of the city would support and honor? (in the case of Confederates, the answer is a resounding “no”).

    2. Did the person make lasting achievements in the case of education? Is there a reason to specifically name a SCHOOL after this person? (again, no).

    3. Would this person be pleased with the institution that bears his name? Would he consider it an honor, or be appalled by it? (I doubt that Confederates would feel honored by having their name on integrated, LGBT-positive, secular institutions).

    4. Was this person connected with the school? (In the case of Washington and Lee University, Lee actually taught there. Neither Forrest nor Stuart taught at the schools that bear his name).

    5. Was the naming of the school inclusive or divisive at the time it was named? (Confederate names were often a jab at the black community, and a way of reinforcing the school’s commitment to segregation).

    I can’t see how the “Forrest” school in Florida, or the “Stuart” here in Norfolk, passes this test.

  • The other Susan Jun 17, 2014 @ 13:32

    People always complain about cost on these things. Looking at that photo I’m wondering why they have to take the High School part of the sign down. Maybe they are just moving it to space it differently.

  • Kathleen Jun 17, 2014 @ 11:09

    Excuse the typo error. The correct name of the massacre of the US Colored troops was FORT Pillow. Kevin: I read in the Official Records (on line at Cornell University) that some white officers were also slaughtered at Fort Pillow. Do you know how many of these officers were murdered?

  • Kathleen Wyer Jun 17, 2014 @ 6:19

    Hi Kevin:

    I was very happy to see that the Civil War monster’s name has been removed from the Jacksonville High School.

    I proudly admit that I’m a shameless promoter of Florida history. My family dates back to 1821 when Spanish Florida was “bought” by the US. Andrew Jackson, its first governor, and his boys came in and ruined the neighborhood. The then Spanish citizens, especially those of color fled to Cuba. They knew what was in store for them.
    In 1848 and in subsequent years, Florida enacted laws that forced them to take a white master. On the eve of the Civil War the free people of color in Pensacola chartered ships that would take them to Tampico, Mexico. Many of their cousins in New Orleans and Mobile did the same.

    Today Florida is overrun with the pinky ring crowd, Disney like Developments and an unfortunate number of neo-confederates.

    Why should a mean, slave trader, and functional illiterate like Forrest be part of the Florida Memory? It’s not white washing or PC to remove his name from a school in a predominately black neighborhood.

    I say erase him from Florida history. He and his boys from Port Pillow to the Klan have no place there.


    • Kevin Levin Jun 17, 2014 @ 6:52

      I don’t believe Forrest ever even set foot in Florida.

    • Marian Latimer Jun 17, 2014 @ 15:05

      As a distant relative of Forrest, (and my TN grandmother, my father’s mother was a Forrest, it was her maiden name) I say, this is fine with me. I’d just as soon forget he is any kind of kin. They have my blessing and support. The only people in this part of the country that I’ve encountered who embrace his name seems to be the Klan.

  • Trueism Jun 17, 2014 @ 3:50

    Sorry but this is wrong. Like him or not he is part of our AMERICAN history. But the PC crowd thinks we can “whitewash” the facts.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 17, 2014 @ 3:57

      He certainly remains part of American history, but he just doesn’t get to define this school’s community.

    • Andy Hall Jun 17, 2014 @ 4:06

      See, I don’t think this is “whitewashing” or “erasing” history at all. If anything, the public dispute over the name (regardless of how it was settled) represents an active, vigorous discussion of history, which is actually healthy. Unfortunately for Forrest in this case, some historical figures can bear that scrutiny better than others.

      • Kevin Levin Jun 17, 2014 @ 4:18

        Well said.

  • Brooks Simpson Jun 17, 2014 @ 3:49

    You would think that a true Confederate heritage advocate from Florida would have fought this. Guess not.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 17, 2014 @ 4:30

      Likely busy developing the next book cover. 🙂

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