Atlanta school newspaper calls for renaming Grady High School

The editorial board of Grady High School’s student newspaper says Henry Grady’s name should be removed from their school.

In an editorial published in The Southerner last week, the board writes:

“As a community of individuals from various backgrounds, races and ethnicities, we should not have a name that fails to represent that heterogeneity. More than that, we should not have a name that is counter to the goals of any productive and welcoming school — one that fails to celebrate many cultures and embrace the uniqueness of Atlanta.”

As alternatives to Grady, the board suggests Ida B. Wells, John Lewis, Andrew Young or Jimmy Carter.

School board members Leslie Grant and Matt Westmoreland, who both represent Grady, did not return calls from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution seeking comment.

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Atlanta school board policy on naming facilities calls for the board chairman to appoint a special committee to consider nominations.

The policy states, “Consideration will be given to names of local communities, neighborhoods, streets, landmarks, and individuals who have made a significant contribution. Names of individuals will be considered only after they have been deceased for five years.”

Grady, an editor of and part owner of the Atlanta Constitution, was known for his work to promote his vision of the New South, a vision that depended on maintaining white supremacy.

“Henry Grady was a racist. A mild racist for his time,” Emory history professor James L. Roark told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month.

“The danger is to measure everything by today’s values and principles. Measured by that, almost everyone will come up short. If the solution to finding sin in the past is obliteration — changing names or moving monuments — we are really in trouble. We have to find a way to make this thing instructional,” Roark said.

In a statement emailed late Tuesday, district spokeswoman Jill Strickland said, “Atlanta Public Schools is proud of The Grady High School Southerner newspaper’s long and storied history of encouraging community dialogue with thoughtful articles. As such, we respect its position on this issue.”

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