Two legendary APS figures are remembered this month for making history

One of the most rewarding parts of spreading the good news about what’s going on around Atlanta Public Schools is you often get to learn, and share, fascinating history lessons that show the district’s place in the growth of Atlanta and beyond. That’s why this week it was so fun to learn of two distinct figures in APS history getting their due.

Both Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Mary Frances Early made a remarkable impact as being two of the first African Americans to integrate the University of Georgia (UGA). Hunter-Gault joined Hamilton E. Holmes as the first two African-American students to integrate UGA in 1961, while Early (who entered soon after as a grad student) became the first African American to graduate from UGA. All three were graduates of APS’ now-defunct Henry McNeal Turner High School.

But they didn’t stop making history in Athens. They all have gone on to carve their own respective niches in history. As relayed in this touching piece Friday morning on National Public Radio (NPR), Charlayne Hunter-Gault went on to become an excellent journalist, for with the New Yorker, then with the New York Times, and later with NPR and CNN.

The APS community may be even more familar with Mary Frances Early, who earned her master’s in music education in 1962, taught music, band and chorus in Atlanta Public Schools for 37 years. She retired from the system in 1994, only to start a second career as a college educator with stops at Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta before retiring in 2005.

According to a press release Thursday from UGA’s press office, Early will be honored for her achivements with a reception on Thursday, Jan. 13, in the cafeteria of J.J. Harris Elementary Charter School in Athens.

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