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On this date, in 1854, Lucy Laney was born. She was a Black educator and pioneer in secondary education.
From Macon, Georgia, Lucy Craft Laney’s family purchased their freedom from slavery. Laney was educated at an American Missionary Association school, and at the age of fifteen, she entered Atlanta University. She graduated in 1873 with the school's first Higher Normal Department students class. With her teacher's training, she spent the next ten years teaching Georgia public schools. She then opened her own smaller school in a Presbyterian church in Augusta, Georgia. The school grew rapidly and in three years, received a Georgia charter as a normal and industrial school.
As she successfully solicited money to expand her school, she also expanded a rigorous liberal arts curriculum. Laney named the school Haines Normal and Industrial Institute after its most ardent supporter, Francine E.H. Haines. Among those who passed through her school as students and teachers were John Hope and Mary McLeod Bethune. Laney continued her own education, taking classes every summer.
Though the depression caused severe financial difficulties, at its peak Haines had more than nine hundred students. The school ceased operations in 1949, sixteen years after Laney’s death. On the site of the old school now stands Lucy C. Laney High School in tribute to her educational contributions.
Reference Library of Black America Volumes 1 through 5
Edited by Mpho Mabunda
Copyright 1998, Gale Research, Detroit, MI