JACKSONVILLE, Fl. - A high-ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan telling the Duval County School Board not to change the name of a local high school.
Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate Army general, grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and the namesake of a high school on Jacksonville's Westside.
For many, a school name invokes a sense of pride. That hasn't been the case at N.B. Forrest High.
Over 117,000 people signed an online petition demanding the school's name be changed.
Organizer Omotayo Richmond argues the name sends the wrong message and represents a man who enslaved, slaughtered and disenfranchised blacks in America.
But not everyone agrees. Our partners at Action News obtained a letter sent to all seven Duval County School Board members from the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
"When I found out it was an actual KKK organization I wanted to burn the letter and wash my hands immediately," said school board member Jason Fischer.
Action News reporter Ryan Smith made some calls and tracked the letter back to the Missouri-based group. Smith spoke with the group's leader, who said he stands by it.
The letter asks the school board to "take a decisive stand to protect the name of the school based on the true historical facts surrounding this valiant man of honor."
The letter to defends the KKK, stating the group was born to "protect defenseless southerners from criminal activities perpetrated against them by Yankee carpet baggers ..."
The letter goes on to use a racial slur against African-Americans, which we have chosen not to repeat.
"At first I thought it might be some sort of a gag or political stunt and then as I looked into it, I found out that it was an actual organization ... I was outraged by it," said Fischer.
School board members met last week to discuss the issue. Board member Connie Hall is spending a month gathering community feedback before a decision is made.
Fischer is hosting a town-hall meeting to discuss the DCPS budget, but he predicts the public will bring up the issue.
The meeting is open to the public. It's being held Thursday night at 6 p.m. at Mandarin High School.
This isn't the first time the issue has come up. In 2006, people suggested changing the name to Eartha M.M. White -- after a Jacksonville philanthriopist.
In 2008, the Duval County School Board voted 5-2 in favor of keeping the name. Current Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says however he has no problem with change if it goes through the proper channels.