Grady High School Moves Closer to Historic Name Change


Dennis Racket

History in the Making: Long-time North Atlanta rival Grady High School, named after Henry W. Grady, will undergo a historic name change in the coming future. The options are Piedmont, Midtown, or Ida B. Wells High School.

Long-time NAHS rival Grady High School is reaching the later stages of the decision to change the school’s name. Made from the merging of Tech High and Boys High) in 1947, Henry W. Grady High School was named after Atlanta-based journalist Henry W. Grady. After several complaints and a well supported petition, APS has moved toward renaming Grady. In months’ time Grady could be known as Ida B. Wells, Piedmont, or Midtown High School.

Henry W. Grady was a relevant figure in the Reconstruction Era, where southern states worked to reintegrate back into the United States after the Civil War. Known as the spokesman of the New South, he promoted the shift to an industrial economy and development through resolving with the North. Grady spoke of white supremacy lasting forever and a one party system to forever deprive African Americans of power. As the managing editor for popular newspaper the Atlanta Constitution, now known as Atlanta-Journal Constitution, he allowed several racist headlines. Under his guidance, several articles that promoted racism and encouraged lynching were published.

Early this year a petition was put together in support of changing Grady’s name. Over a thousand people supported it, and it was ultimately brought to the Atlanta School Board by Grady alumni in March. The petition explained that although Grady contributed a lot to Georgia, his racist beliefs assisted in the widespread white supremacy in the South. “His legacy should be studied, not celebrated,” said the petition.

Since the petition was brought to higher up’s attention, over 50 names were suggested as a replacement. The list was narrowed down to three alternatives: Ida B. Wells, Midtown, or Piedmont. Renaming the school after NAACP founder and civil rights leader Ida B. Wells is a popular pick among the community, while others would rather have the name change be location-based. “If I went to Grady I’d want Ida B. Wells to be the replacement for Grady,” said sophomore Camille Evans. “Unlike Grady, she represented good morals and equality among all.”

After suggestions that student opinion was most important, the renaming was delayed by the school board in the beginning of the month at a near unanimous vote. This decision allows Grady students to confidentially vote on a new name from the three choices.  The name change process will be resumed December 7th by the board, giving students more than enough time to voice their opinions. As 2020 comes to an end we will be witness to yet another historical event – Henry W. Grady High School, over 70 years old, bearing a new name.