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Martin Luther King Jr’s Childhood School To Reopen In Atlanta

By Danielle Dorsey

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Renovations are underway at the historic David T. Howard Building in the city’s Old Fourth Ward, which closed in 1976 after years of operating as a segregated elementary school and high school. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the campus will reopen as Howard Middle School in Fall 2020.

The school represents an important aspect of Atlanta’s history. The building was donated and named after David T. Howard, a former slave who became an undertaker and founded the city’s first Black-owned bank.  

Perhaps the most notable pupil to attend the school was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who went to the school from third through sixth grades and whose childhood home on Auburn Avenue is less than a half-mile away from the campus.

In 1948, it became a high school and assisted in the matriculation of significant residents such as Maynard Jackson, who went on to become Atlanta’s first African American mayor; NBA star Walt “Clyde” Frazier; and Olympic gold medalist high jumper Mildred McDaniel Singleton. 

The school is intended to alleviate overcrowding in Atlanta Public Schools and will accept several hundred students from Inman Middle School. It is one of more than a dozen schools that will be renovated through a voter-approved, one-cent tax. 

APS has allotted $52 million to preserve, renovate, and expand the Howard building, which will reopen with 100,000 square feet of additional space, a new administrative wing, auditorium, music rooms, cafeteria, and a bridge to connect the school’s two wings. Architects are taking care to preserve the school’s essence and the building will contain an exhibition space dedicated to its history.


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