Georgia board approves naming UGA school after first black graduate

Thursday, October 17, 2019 @ 11:03 AM
By Eric Stirgus - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia Board of Regents on Wednesday approved a request from the University of Georgia to name its College of Education after Mary Frances Early, its first African American graduate.

Early arrived at UGA in the summer of 1961, a few months after Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes became the first African American students to enroll there. She became the first African American to earn a degree from the University of Georgia when she graduated on Aug. 16, 1962, with a master’s degree in music education. She returned in 1964 to continue her education, earning a Specialist in Education degree in 1967.

Photo: Phil Skinner/AJC

Early became a music teacher in the Atlanta Public Schools system and eventually promoted to music director of the entire school system. She retired in 1994 after working for 37 years in public schools. She later taught at Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University as head of the music department.

“This is a fabulous day for the University of Georgia,” College of Education Dean Denise Spangler said in an interview after Wednesday’s vote.

Photo: Courtesy University of Georgia

UGA will officially unveil the college’s new name on Feb. 1, 2020 to coincide with the start of Black History Month, Spangler said.