ATLANTA - Well-known African-American journalist Ida B. Wells is the Atlanta Public Schools’ leading choice to rename Grady High School.
Wells' great-great-granddaughter, Tiana Ferrell said she’s honored school leaders want to remember her ancestor’s legacy but thinks other names would be better suited for the Midtown Atlanta high school.
"There are just so many other names that I would feel should be at the top of the list as Atlanta staples, because I am an Atlanta native," said Farrell.
The high school’s current namesake is Henry W. Grady, who was a Georgia journalist during America’s Reconstruction who promoted a “New South,” but who was equally known for his white supremacist values.
"My first reaction is, 'Is this a knee jerk reaction,'" she said.
Ferrell said she believes Wells deserves honor and accolades for her commitment to social justice, but she’s concerned naming institutions and buildings after an individual can muddy their achievements.
She remembered a housing project in Chicago that was named after Wells.
"After decades, the housing project was run down, and a lot of people in Chicago didn't know who Ida B. Wells was except for a housing project. So, I don't want her legacy to be forgotten," she said.
Some students told board members the name they think best suits the school during a virtual school board meeting earlier this month.
Monday, students were surveyed as to whether they’d like to see the school named after the late African-American journalist, or given a location-based name, such as “Midtown” or “Piedmont.”
There has been a lot of back and forth about this name change. One parent started a petition about it that garnered more than a thousand signatures.
The school board could make the final decision as soon as December 7 and board members have made it clear the student’s voices will be considered, but will not dictate the ultimate outcome.