Atlanta school honoring Confederate general renamed for Hank Aaron

The Atlanta school board on Monday voted to rename an alternative high school after the late baseball player Hank Aaron. CURTIS COMPTON / AJC FILE PHOTO
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The Atlanta school board on Monday voted to rename an alternative high school after the late baseball player Hank Aaron. CURTIS COMPTON / AJC FILE PHOTO

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

The late Hall of Fame baseball star Hank Aaron will soon have an Atlanta high school named after him.

The Atlanta Board of Education on Monday voted unanimously to change the name of Forrest Hill Academy, an alternative high school located in southwest Atlanta. When students return to the school in August, the new name will be Hank Aaron New Beginnings Academy.

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Aaron, an Atlanta Braves baseball player who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, died in January at the age of 86.

The academy’s name came under review because it references Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general who was active in the Ku Klux Klan.

Dropping the “Forrest” name and “what it really symbolizes” is a significant move, said board member Michelle Olympiadis.

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“It is very important that we understand our history. It’s very important that we understand where we are coming from,” she said during Monday’s meeting.

Added board chair Jason Esteves: “Names do matter.”

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Forrest Hill Academy in southwest Atlanta is shown in this AJC file photo from 2010. Bita Honarvar/AJC FILE PHOTO

Forrest Hill Academy in southwest Atlanta is shown in this AJC file photo from 2010. Bita Honarvar/AJC FILE PHOTO
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Forrest Hill Academy in southwest Atlanta is shown in this AJC file photo from 2010. Bita Honarvar/AJC FILE PHOTO

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Vice chair Eshé Collins, who led the committee that recommended the new name, said the discussion sparked neighborhood talks about also trying to rename Forrest Hills Drive, the street where the school is located.

The renaming is the fourth such change approved by the board in recent months. In each case, officials cited a desire to distance the district from historical figures who held racist views.

Credit: WSBTV Videos

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Bigger than baseball: Hank Aaron emerged as an important figure in civil rights movement

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Previously, the board agreed to change the names of Henry W. Grady High School, Grady Stadium and Joseph E. Brown Middle School effective next school year.

Naming the academy after Aaron required a unanimous vote. A district policy states that officials must wait five years after someone dies before naming a school after that person, but the rule can be waived if all board members agree.

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Baseball legend Hank Aaron died at the age of 86. Here he talks with the AJC about his legacy in a 2014 interview.


New names for Atlanta Public Schools’ buildings

Forrest Hill Academy: Renamed as Hank Aaron New Beginnings Academy

Grady Stadium: Renamed as Eddie S. Henderson Stadium

Henry W. Grady High School: Renamed as Midtown High School

Joseph E. Brown Middle School: Renamed as Herman J. Russell West End Academy

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