Tag Archives: Nathan Bedford Forrest High School

Remembering the Be-Ins at Willowbranch Park

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For the briefest of moments, it was the most magical time, wild yet somehow innocent. The be-ins at Willowbranch Park in the late ’60s featured a broil of young musicians, out of which rose the Allman Brothers Band. The be-ins meant long hair, beads and tie-dye, hippies walking barefoot through Riverside, cheap rent in old mansions, but more than anything, they meant music.

New Story: Schools Named for Confederates and the Demise of Manhattan Beach

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Joseph Finegan Elementary School, named for a Confederate general, stands where segregated black Manhattan Beach once was. White developers said they wanted “Negroes removed from the oceanfront” and the one business whose family didn’t sell was destroyed in a “mysterious fire.” So, “what’s in a name?” Juliet asked. 

Jefferson Davis Junior High School

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My father and I were the only white people on the basketball court. He was 40 years older, at least, than everybody else. I’m writing this story on his 96th. He died six months ago tomorrow. 

Of what beloved Jacksonville architect Taylor Hardwick thought of designing new schools with the names of Confederate leaders, there’s no record. The only black faces in 1960s Jeff Davis yearbooks are those of the custodial staff. And the school principal, Wilber C. Johnson, standing beside a Confederate flag and wearing blackface.

“We will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree. / We will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree. / We will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree, / As we march along!”