12.15 Atlanta Board of Education Votes to Rename Brown Middle School and Grady High School

Office of Communications and Public Engagement
130 Trinity Avenue SW | Atlanta, Georgia 30303


Ian Smith, Executive Director
404-802-2855, office
404-603-6934, cell


Seth Coleman, Media Relations Manager
404-802-2891, office
404-406-5570, cell


Atlanta Board of Education Votes to Rename Brown Middle School and Grady High School

Brown is now Herman J. Russell West End Academy; Grady is now Midtown High School
Name Changes Become Effective in the 2021-2022 School Year


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     

December 15, 2020


Atlanta – The Atlanta Board of Education (ABOE) voted to approve name changes for Brown Middle School and Grady High School at a continuation of the Board’s December executive meeting held on Monday, December 14. Brown Middle School, located in the Washington High School Cluster, has been renamed to Herman J. Russell West End Academy, and Grady High School has been renamed to Midtown High School.


The former school names paid homage to men who, based on their speeches and writings, supported slavery, secession, or segregation. In changing the names, the ABOE intends to ensure Atlanta Public Schools has buildings named after people who represent the values of the District’s constituents – its students, parents, families and staff. The name changes go into effect for the 2021-2022 school year.


Grady High began as a Boys High School, one of the first schools established by APS in 1872. In 1947, it was named after Henry W. Grady, a famous journalist who was managing editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was a white supremacist. 


The voice of Grady High students was included in the renaming process. Students held an electronic vote last month and selected Midtown High School from a number of options for the new name. The name Ida B. Wells High School was also an option, in honor of the famed African American journalist and civil rights leader who was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


Brown Middle was originally named after Georgia Governor Joseph Emerson Brown, a firm believer in slavery and Southern states’ rights and a leading secessionist, who led Georgia into the Confederacy. Once a former APS high school, Brown Middle now serves students in grades sixth through eighth.


Herman J. Russell graduated from historic David T. Howard High School, which closed in 1976 but was reopened by the District as a middle school in August. He was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded H. J. Russell & Company, the largest minority-owned real estate and construction business in the United States. He died in 2014.


The renaming process was guided by the following renaming committees:

Henry W. Grady Naming Committee

  • Leslie Grant | District 1 Representative, Atlanta Board of Education (Chair)
  • Amir Farokhi | District 2 Representative, Atlanta City Council
  • Carrie MacBrien |Assistant Principal, Grady High School
  • Celeste Beal | Grady High School Alumnus
  • Courtney Smith | NPU-E Representative
  • Janet Kinard | Council of Intown Neighborhoods and Schools (CINS) Representative
  • Jay Hammond | Student, Grady High School

Joseph E. Brown Middle School 

  • Aretta Baldon | District 2 Representative, Atlanta Board of Education (Chair)
  • Cleta Winslow | District 4 Representative, Atlanta City Council
  • Tiauna Crooms | Principal, Brown Middle School
  • Davida Huntley | Washington Cluster Advocate
  • Angela Brown | Community Advocate 
  • Kimberly Scott | NPU-T
  • Wendy Wilson | Parent, Brown Middle School 



About Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 52,000 students across 87 schools. The District is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 58 traditional schools, 18 charter schools, six partner schools, two citywide single-gender academies and three alternative programs. To learn more about Atlanta Public Schools, follow us on social media – Twitter (@apsupdate), Facebook (Atlanta Public Schools), and Instagram (apsupdate) – or visit us online at www.atlantapublicschools.us.