Lucy Craft Laney (1854-1933)
The founder and principal of the Haines Institute in Augusta for fifty years (1883-1933), Lucy Craft Laney is Georgia's most famous female African American educator.
After teaching in Macon, Savannah, Milledgeville, and Augusta for ten years, "Miss Lucy," as she was generally known, began her own school in 1883 in the basement of Christ Presbyterian Church in Augusta.
Haines not only offered its students a holistic approach to education but also served as a cultural center for the African American community. The school hosted orchestra concerts, lectures by nationally famous guests, and various social events. Laney also inaugurated the first kindergarten and created the first nursing training programs for African American women in Augusta.
In Augusta Laney helped to found the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in 1918, and she was active in the Interracial Commission, the National Association of Colored Women, and the Niagara Movement. She also helped to integrate the community work of the YMCA and YWCA. Her friends and students included Mary McLeod Bethune, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Nannie Helen Burroughs, W. E. B. Du Bois, Joseph Simeon Flipper, John Hope, Langston Hughes, Mary Jackson McCrorey (the associate principal at Haines from 1896 to 1916), William Scarborough, Martha Schofield, Madame C. J. Walker, Richard R. Wright Sr., and Frank Yerby. Laney died in 1933.
Lucy Craft Laney, the Reverend Henry McNeal Turner, and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. were the first African Americans to have their portraits hung in the Georgia state capitol; they were selected by Governor Jimmy Carter in 1974. Laney's portrait bears tribute to "the mother of the children of the people," a woman who knew that "God didn't use any different dirt to make me than the first lady of the land." She was inducted into Georgia Women of Achievement in 1992.
Robin Kadison Berson, Marching to a Different Drummer: Unrecognized Heroes of American History (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994), 186-94.
Asa C. Griggs, "Notes: Lucy Craft Laney," Journal of Negro History 19 (January 1934): 97-102.
Mary M. Marshall, "'Tell Them We Are Rising!' Black Intellectuals and Lucy Craft Laney in Post Civil War Augusta, Georgia" (Ph.D. diss., Drew University, 1998).
Lucy Lilian Notestein, Nobody Knows The Troubles I See (Washington, D.C.: Manuscript Divisions, Library of Congress, n.d.), 1-16.
June O. Patton, "Lucy Craft Laney," Facts on File Encyclopedia of Black Women in America, vol. 1 (New York: Facts on File, 1997).
Jennifer Lund Smith, "Lucy Craft Laney and Martha Berry: Lighting Fires of Knowledge," in Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times, vol. 1., ed. Ann Short Chirhart and Betty Wood (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009).
Gloria Taylor Williams-Way, "Lucy Craft Laney, 'The Mother of the Children of the People': Educator, Reformer, Social Activist" (Ph.D. diss., University of South Carolina, 1998).
Kent Anderson Leslie, Decatur
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