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Mary Frances Early
*Mary Frances Early was born on this date in 1936. She was a Black Music teacher and professor.
Mary Frances Early was born in Atlanta, Georgia. She attended Atlanta's Turner High School and went on to graduate from Clark College (later Clark Atlanta University) with a bachelor's degree in Music Education in 1957. Early began her postgraduate work at the University of Michigan to pursue a master's degree in music education then enrolled at the University of Georgia in 1961 receiving her master’s degree in music education on August 16, 1962. She also earned an Ed.Ms. degree in music education in 1967 from Georgia.
During Early's career, she spent time as a music teacher, a planning and development coordinator, an elementary division curriculum specialist, and a music resource teacher at John Hope Elementary, Wesley Avenue Elementary Schools, and Coan Middle School. Also, she worked as an adjunct professor at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges and as a music coordinator and supervisor of Atlanta Public Schools. She became the first Black president of the Georgia Music Educators Association in 1981. As of 2003, Early was the head of the music department at Clark Atlanta University.
Early's awards include the STAR Teacher Award, Coan Middle School, 1972; Benjamin E. Mays Black Music Heritage Award, 1995; University of Georgia Outstanding Alumna Award, 2000; and the Foot Soldier for Equal Justice (University of Georgia) Award. In light of this attention, she said, "It wasn't in our vocabulary to think that people were good or bad because of their skin color, so I was just sort of taken aback that it became a big issue later in my life." On May 10, 2013, at the Spring Commencement Ceremony, Early was honored when the University of Georgia presented her with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
In 2019, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved changing the name of the UGA School of Education in honor of Early. In the Fall 2005 issue of the Graduate School Magazine, Early was profiled as a "They Were First" subject under the title, "Mary Frances Early Speaks: on a public education and the dynamics of change". She was also included as a profile (pp 65–70) in the 2010 commemorative book, "Centennial: Graduate Education at the University of Georgia 1910-2010". University of Georgia President Jere Morehead presented Early with a presidential medal in 2018.