Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wearing "Racist" Football Jerseys Is Never A Good Thing

Once again we get another example of how things are a little different south of the Mason-Dixon line. Nathan B. Forrest High School in Jacksonville, FL is still named after a prominent KKK member, and their football jerseys are representative of the uniform he wore during the Confederate War.

The school, named for a Confederate army general and prominent Ku Klux Klan participant, is not performing to the academic standard set by the state's educational authorities.

The student body also happens to be 51 percent black.


We could argue until the end of time about the fairness of Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests and the circumstances of each student, for which there are many valid points.

But I challenge you to think about this simple question: How much power does a name carry?

When the school's doors opened last week, some community members feared and others hoped Forrest would have a new name. A community survey indicated the majority of residents -- albeit mostly outside the school district -- wanted a less controversial figure to represent the school.

But football players, again, will wear maroon and gray Rebels jerseys for Nathan B. Forrest this fall.

This situation reminds me of the Ole Miss Rebels, and the actions they undertook a few years ago to get rid of symbols that are considered "racially diversive".
Mississippi will sideline its Colonel Rebel mascot this football season(2003), taking another step to distance itself from the South's Confederate past.

In the last decade, Mississippi has been steering its image from the Old South by phasing out symbols that some say are racially divisive. Confederate battle flags, once pervasive at football games, have been banished and "Dixie" has been dropped as the school's unofficial fight song.

It seems odd that a high school would continue to function under the name of someone who had an association with one of the most racist organizations to ever exist. Especially after what transpired at Ole Miss, and after the confederate flag was brought down from over top the state Capitol in South Carolina. There is a petition to change the name, and it will be interesting to see if the Duval County School Board approves a change.

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