The Atlanta Board of Education unanimously voted on Dec. 14 to change the names of Grady High School and Brown Middle School. Students will now be attending Midtown High School and Herman J. Russell West End Academy.

In November, a naming committee originally recommended that Grady be renamed in honor of pioneering Black journalist Ida B. Wells, but then asked the school board to postpone voting on the name after community outcry about the process to allow the student body to vote. After votes were tallied,  61 percent of the students who voted were in favor of Midtown High.

The decision to rename Brown Middle was less fraught, with the naming committee agreeing to honor the late real estate and construction entrepreneur Herman J. Russell and combining it with the school’s location.

The move to rename Grady and Brown began in March as communities across the nation re-examined the legacy of racism and white supremacy in the names of its buildings, streets, parks, and monuments. Grady High was named after journalist, orator, and white supremacist Henry W. Grady, while Brown was named after Joseph Brown, who was Georgia’s governor during secession from the Union and during the Civil War.

The school board is also considering new names for Forrest Hill Academy – named after another Civil War-era white supremacist – and for Grady’s football stadium.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.