April 13

Lucy Craft Laney

April 13, 1854 - Augusta

To be African-American and born during slavery didn’t necessarily mean you were a slave. Lucy Craft Laney was born in 1854, but her father had purchased freedom for him and his wife. For Laney, freedom meant education. Able to read and write by age four and translate Latin by 12, she joined the first class at Atlanta University. She then taught for 10 years before beginning her own school: the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta. She would be its principal for the next 50 years.

Laney worked tirelessly to find funding for the school, named for its benefactor, Francine Haines. By 1912, the school had 34 teachers and 900 students. Graduates went on to prestigious schools like Howard, Fisk, and Yale. Laney helped found the Augusta Chapter of the NAACP and was friends with W.E.B. Dubois, Mary McLeod Bethune and Langston Hughes.

This pioneering African-American educator was born on April 13, 1854, Today in Georgia History.