An “imperial kaltrop” of the Ku Klux Klan has sent a letter to members of Florida’s Duval County School Board urging them not to change the name of a high school named after the group’s first “grand wizard.”
Board member Jason Fischer, who said he comes from a racially diverse family, called the letter “vile” and an “outrage.”
“I almost burned the letter and washed my hands,” he told the AFRO of his reaction.
The school board will soon consider whether to change the name of the Nathan B. Forrest High School in Jacksonville, Fla. Fischer—who has not taken a public stance on the issue itself—is hosting two town hall meetings, one Oct. 3 and the other on a date to be determined, to discuss the potential name change. The meeting was originally slated to focus only on the fiscal year 2014 budget, he said, but when a push to change the name made local and national headlines, he decided to bring the issue to the community.
“I want to hear from my constituents,” Fischer said, because in the end, “it is definitely a community decision.”
Jacksonville resident Omotoya Richmond is responsible for the Change.org petition to change the school’s name, which has garnered more than 135,000 signatures.
In an earlier interview, Richmond told the AFRO he did not want his daughter—who is African-American—or any other child to attend a school that is named after someone with a legacy of hate. Forrest was a slave trader, a Confederate general infamous for the slaughter of Black Union soldiers, and the first “grand wizard” of the KKK, a White supremacy group.
In April 2007, the school board voted 5-2 to keep the school’s name, but new members have joined the group and could change the outcome.
“It couldn’t be more clear: Inaction from the board equates to siding with current members of the Ku Klux Klan,” Richmond said in a statement this week.
“I’m grateful that Mr. Fischer is giving our community the chance to voice their support for changing the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School,” he added. “Nearly one thousand signatures on my petition are from Jacksonville residents, and that includes alumni and parents of current students. And there are many more from throughout Duval County. This is a change Jacksonville wants to see and we’re getting close to making that happen.”
The Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which is based in Missouri, are against the change, however. In the letter, an individual identified as “Imperial Kaltrop, K Trio” urges the school board to “take a decisive stand to protect the name of the school” and thereby preserve a part of the nation’s history.
The Klan leader also suggested that the allegations against Forrest and the group are based on political incorrectness and outright lies.
“It is true and no secret that Nathan Bedford Forrest was appointed first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and carried out his duties as the office demanded of him,” the letter read in part. “What is never taught or reported on in the mainstream media is how or why there was a need for the Klan or ‘Ku Klux’ as it was originally called.”
It continued, “Many say it was to deny the newly emancipated blacks of their rights, and I am sure that there were some men who embraced that concept, but the Klan was born primarily as a fraternity and quickly evolved into a group of vigilance to protect defenseless southerners from criminal activities perpetrated against them by Yankee carpetbaggers, scalawags, and many bestial Blacks and other criminal elements out for revenge or just taking part in criminal mischief.”
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