Students at an Atlanta high school named after a white supremacist have chosen a new name for their school, causing a renaming committee to drop its previous recommendation.
With a 61.4% vote, students at Henry W. Grady High School chose Midtown High School as their new school name, news outlets reported.
The choice of Ida B. Wells High School received 19.8% of the vote and the third choice of Piedmont High School received 18.8%. District officials said about 46% of the student body, 687 students, voted.
A committee appointed by the school board chairman recommended naming the school after Wells, a journalist and civil rights activist whose work exposed racism and lynching in the early 1900s.
Students were allowed to voice their opinion in a vote after critics said the committee disregarded earlier surveys that favored Midtown as the new name, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.
After the vote, the committee reconsidered its earlier recommendation Tuesday and unanimously voted on the Midtown name.
“I think the geographic name seemed to be something that people felt safe with and proud of, and there’s certainly a nice culture and history to Midtown as well,” said board member Leslie Grant, who led the committee.
Ultimately the school board must approve the decision. The group will meet Monday to consider the Midtown name.
Grady, an editor and part-owner of The Atlanta Constitution, advocated for a “New South” after the Civil War, but he also campaigned against equality for freed slaves, saying “the supremacy of the white race of the South must be maintained forever.”
His name is featured prominently on high-profile Georgia institutions such as Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and the University of Georgia’s journalism school. Biographies in Georgia often describe Grady with glowing praise, omitting his views about Black people.