APS school board approves new names for Grady High, Brown Middle schools

ATLANTA — After months of meetings and petitions, two Atlanta schools officially have new names. The Atlanta Public School Board approved new names for Grady High School and Joseph E. Brown Middle School.

Grady is now Midtown High and Brown is now Herman J. Russell West End Academy. The school board approved the changes Monday night.

Grady High School was named after Henry Grady, a journalist many consider a racist and white supremacist. Many people argued he shouldn’t be celebrated by having a school named after him.

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For more than 70 years the historic high school has stood in Midtown, right near Piedmont Park. The location-based name Midtown High School got the most votes in a student-only survey.

A school board naming committee promised to honor the results. In October, it originally voted to recommend renaming the school after Ida b. Wells, a Black journalist and activist in the late 1800s.

But students and parents complained their voices were not heard on the name change.

The former Brown Middle School was founded in 1923 and named after Joseph E. Brown, who was Georgia’s governor during the Civil War and opposed slavery’s abolition.

A name change has been debated for the school going back to 2016. The school board agreed to rename the middle school after Herman Russell.

Russell was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who turned a small plastering firm into one of the most successful African-American-owned real estate development and construction companies in America. He died in 2014 at the age of 83.

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