Not suitable for a school: Nathan Bedford Forrest school name dropped because he was Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan
Not suitable for a school: Nathan Bedford Forrest school name dropped because he was Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux KlanWilkicommons

A school named after the founding 'Grand Wizard' of the Ku Klux Klan is getting a long-overdue makeover in a victory for people power and the web.

More than half of the 1,300 pupils at the Nathan Bedford Forrest High School, in Duval County, Florida are black, so it was bound to become a problem that the institution is named after an army general who reportedly slaughtered black union troops after they had surrendered to Confederate forces during the American Civil War.

This problem deepened when account was taken of Forrest's record as the first Grand Wizard of the KKK, a group infamous for virulent racism against black people and also burnings and lynchings – which scarred race relations in the United States for generations.

More than 160,000 people agreed that the title was not appropriate by signing a petition on Change.org. Now the school is to erase Forrestt's name for a more inclusive one – one less burdened by racism.

Petition founder Omotayo Richmond explained why he used Change.org in a bid to get the school's name replaced. The father of one said: "I don't want my daughter, or any student, going to a school named under those circumstances. This is a bad look for Florida -- with so much racial division in our state, renaming Forrest High would be a step toward healing," he wrote.

Announcing the move, school board member Constance Hall said: "We recognize that we cannot and are not seeking to erase history.

"For too long and too many, this name has represented the opposite of unity, respect, and equality."

The school becomes the latest public institution to ditch its ties to figures from the losing side of the Civil War, which led to the reshaping of the United States into its current form. In Memphis, Tennessee, the names of three parks were changed to erase links to the Confederate army, reported the nydailynews.