Saturday, October 25, 2008

How I know that I live in the South

DCPS made it on Dentention Slip this week with an on-going, controversial proposal to change the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School (the school board will be voting on Nov. 3rd at 6:00 p.m. and the public will have a chance to voice their opinions, but arrive early if you want to speak!!!).

The Story:
It all started two years ago when, Steven Stoll, a professor of sociology at FCCJ presented research on Forrest to the School Board. In his words, "This guy owned and sold human beings and was one of the most successful slave traders in America. During the Civil War, he butchered and executed black soldiers in cold blood. And after the Civil War, he became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and instituted segregation in the south." Many in support of keeping the name cite both history & heritage as their main reasons for doing so. Others question if it will lead to changing the names of other historically-referenced schools. (Source)

Here's how I see this:
Our history is not without flaws. Those making decisions in the 1950s (when Forrest High was founded) were both mere-humans as well as a product of their society and times. Keep in mind that fewer than one in five African Americans received a high school diploma in the 1950s. Today the make-up of Forrest High includes: 4% Asian, 54% Black, 8% Hispanic, 4% Mixed and 29% White. While many see the naming issue as trivial, I don't believe that it is. I've written before about the implicit racism that exists in our society. I believe that something is very wrong when the majority of students attending this school walk by a statue of a man that believed they were property to be bought & sold.

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