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Atlanta High School Is Being Renamed After Baseball Icon Hank Aaron After Years Of Being Named After KKK Leader

Atlanta High School Is Being Renamed After Baseball Icon Hank Aaron After Years Of Being Named After KKK Leader

A new dawn is approaching.

An Atlanta high school formerly named after a KKK leader is now being renamed in honor of the late, great baseball icon Hank Aaron, Blavity reports. 

The Atlanta Board of Education voted unanimously to rename Forest Hill Academy in honor of the late baseball icon Hank Aaron, who passed away earlier this year at 86. The high school was formerly named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. The school is one in a long line of institutions reconciling with their racist symbols and past. According to The Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 718 identified Confederate monuments in the nation as of 2019. More than 300 existing in Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and 100 identified public K-12 schools and three higher learning institutions after Confederate leaders.

“It is very important that we understand our history. It’s very important that we understand where we are coming from. It gives a lot of credence to our character and our morals,” said Michelle Olympiadis, a school board member. 

Aaron was a legendary baseball player and a human rights advocate. He played 23 seasons in the major leagues, 21 of those with the Atlanta Braves, breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record during his time with the team. In 2014, Aaron spoke about the nation’s history of racism, saying, “We are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record. If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.”

The Hank Aaron New Beginnings Academy will start a new chapter for the high school, instilling its students with the values of the late legend. Under normal circumstances, district policy requires a five-year waiting period after a person passes before naming a school in their honor. That requirement can be waived if all board members agree. 

The district also has plans to change Henry W. Grady High School, Grady Stadium, and Joseph E. Brown Middle School, all of which are linked to historic racist figures. Forest Hills Drive, the street where the school resides, will also undergo a name change. 

This change is the first step towards long-lasting progress and righting the wrongs of this nation’s racist, white supremacist delusion.

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Winter/Blavity