Naming any public facility after a person can be fraught with problems. Even if that person was considered a hero at the time, history has a way of erasing accolades.
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 earlier this month, the board wrote:
“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.
But APS school board policy states that individuals will only be considered after they’ve been deceased for five years. That rules out Lewis, Young and Carter.
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.
Earlier this year, officials in Houston, Texas voted to remove Grady’s name from a school there as well.
Proponents of keeping the Grady name argue that history is what it was, not what you’d like it to have been. And at the time just about every white person in power was a racist of some sort.
So does that mean almost everything should be renamed, including the state itself? History doesn’t cast King George II in a favorable light in most aspects.
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