Amid Forrest Controversy, Who Are Jacksonville's High Schools Named For?

Nov 8, 2013

At a meeting Tuesday evening, the Duval County School Board signaled they will vote Friday on whether to begin the process of renaming Jacksonville's N.B. Forrest High School.

A recent online petition renewed debate on the name, which first belonged to Confederate Army officer and founding leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Forrest High isn't the only school in Jacksonville named for a local or national luminary; 13 of the district's 21 high schools have personal namesakes. Here's what we found out about them.

Douglas Anderson School of the Arts
Named for: Jacksonville resident Douglas Anderson (1884-1936)

According to the school's website, Jacksonville native Douglas Anderson spearheaded the construction of the school in 1922. A leader in Southside, he served as PTA president, and for many years he operated the only bus service for black students in Duval County. The school was renamed in his honor in 1945.

Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts
Named for: Jacksonville Reverends S.B. Darnell and Alfred Cookman

According to the school's website, the Reverend S.B. Darnell was a Methodist minister who moved to Jacksonville. He founded the Cookman Institute, Florida's first institution of higher education for African-Americans specializing in the religious and academic preparation of teachers. The school served thousands of young black men and women until it was destroyed in the great Jacksonville fire of 1901.

The Reverend Alfred Cookman, a friend of Rev. Darnell’s, helped raise money to rebuild the school at its current site. The school was eventually purchased by the Duval County School System, and well known Jacksonville activist Eartha White suggested naming the school to honor both Reverend S. B. Darnell and Reverend Alfred Cookman.

U.S. Sen. Duncan Fletcher
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Duncan U. Fletcher High School
Named for: U.S. Senator and two-time Jacksonville Mayor Duncan U. Fletcher (1859-1936) 

Duncan Upshaw Fletcher was the longest serving U.S. Senator in Florida's history, in office from March 1909 until his death on June 17, 1936.

Prior to his time in Washington he served two, two-year terms as mayor of Jacksonville.

Andrew Jackson High School
Named for: Seventh President of the United States Andrew Jackson

Jacksonville's namesake, Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson is perhaps best known for his military career, his terms as President of the United States, and being the face on the $20 bill.

Robert E. Lee High School
Named for: Confederate States of America General Robert E. Lee

Rising to the rank of colonel during a more than three-decade career in the U.S. Army, Robert E. Lee rose to the rank of general of the Confederate States Army after following his home state of Virginia into the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Along with many other schools across the country, Lee also notably lent his name to the shock orange 1969 Dodge Charger on the classic 1970's television show The Dukes of Hazzard.

Terry Parker High School
Named for: Jacksonville philanthropist H. Terry Parker (1889-1970)

According to a Wikipedia page on the school, in 1955 philanthropist H. Terry Parker and his family deeded 30 acres of property in Arlington for the erection of a public school. The Arlington PTA nominated Parker to be the school's namesake, which was approved by the school board. Click here to see photos of Parker's grave at Oaklawn Cemetery.

Paxon School for Advanced Studies
Named for: Jacksonville's first air field, Paxon Air Field

According to the website of Paxon's class of 1964, Paxon Field was Jacksonville's first airfield outside of the beaches. The field was the site of the 1926 accident that claimed the life of Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman, the first African-American airplane pilot and the first American to hold an international pilots license.

Stanton College Preparatory School
Named for: General Edwin McMasters Stanton, President Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of War.

According to the school's website, General Edwin McMasters Stanton was an ardent champion of human rights and an advocate of free formal education for Negro boys and girls. Stanton was the first school for black children in the state of Florida. 

William M. Raines High School
Named for: Jacksonville educator William Marion Raines

William Marion Raines, a prominent black educator in Jacksonville, was the principal of Matthew Gilbert High School, now middle school, from 1938 until his death 1950. The school opened unnamed in January 1965 and was renamed for Raines at the end of the 1965 spring semester.

A. Philip Randolph, seated fourth from left, with the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

A. Philip Randolph Academies of Technology
Named for: Civil Rights Movement leader A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979)

One of the head organizers of the 1963 March on Washington, A. Philip Randolph was born in Crescent City, Florida in 1889 and moved to Jacksonville in 1891.

He is also credited with organizing the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly black labor union and successfully lobbying for federal civil rights policy from the 1940's until his death in 1979.

Edward Waters College maintains a permanent exhibit on his life and legacy, and A. Philip Randolph Boulevard, which borders the west side of Everbank Field and the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, is also named for him.

Jean Ribault High School
Named for: French colonist Jean Ribault (1520-1565)

A naval officer, navigator, Huguenot, and Frenchman, Ribault explored the St. Johns River and commanded the French colony of Fort Caroline before it fell to Spanish control in 1565.

Ribault was also briefly on Twitter; click here to check out his feed.

Edward White
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Edward White High School
Named for: American Astronaut Edward Higgins White (1930-1967)

White was the first American astronaut to spacewalk, also known as "extra-vehicular activity" or EVA, during NASA's Gemini 4 mission on June 3, 1965.

On January 27, 1967, White was among three astronauts killed in a fire during a failed test of the Apollo 1 rocket less than a month before the scheduled launch.

There are several schools and other institutions named for White, including Edward White Hospital in St. Petersburg. A photograph of White performing his Gemini 4 space walk is included as one of several images on the Voyager Golden Record.

Samuel W. Wolfson High School
Named for: Jacksonville businessman Samuel W. Wolfson

Samuel Wolfson is best known as Jacksonville's biggest baseball booster. He owned the minor league Jacksonville Braves from 1953-1958 and the man who funded the construction of the former Jacksonville Baseball Park, which was renamed for Wolfson in 1963, the year he died.

The ballpark was demolished in 2002, but the school still bears his name. The Wolfson family name also lives on through Wolfson Children's Hospital.

Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology
Named for: Frank H. Peterson

Mr. Peterson proved to be the most mysterious. Carlene Stitz, secretary in school principal Cathy Barnes' office described him as, "A business leader on the Westside who believed in career education."

The Jacksonville Historical Society did not have information on him immediately available when contacted Thursday. Duval County Public Schools public relations chief Marsha Oliver said the district does not keep comprehensive records on who each school is named for.

You can follow Patrick on Twitter @patrickhdonges.