Lucy Craft Laney

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Lucy Craft Laney
Lucy Craft Laney.jpg
Born(1854-04-13)April 13, 1854
Macon, Georgia, United States
DiedOctober 24, 1933(1933-10-24) (aged 79)
Residence1116 Phillip Street, Augusta, Georgia
EducationAtlanta University
University of Chicago
Lincoln University
South Carolina State College
Alma materAtlanta University
Years active1886–1933
EmployerHaines Normal and Industrial School
Known forPrincipal and founder of Haines Normal and Industrial School, Augusta, Georgia
Political partyRepublican

Lucy Craft Laney (April 13, 1854 – October 24, 1933)[1] was an early African-American educator who in 1883 founded the first school for black children in Augusta, Georgia. She was principal of the Haines Institute for Industrial and Normal Education for 50 years. Laney was selected by Governor Jimmy Carter in 1974 to be one of the first African Americans to have their portraits hung in the Georgia State Capitol.

Early life[edit]

Lucy Craft Laney was born on April 13, 1854, in Macon, Georgia, 11 years before the end of slavery, which was outlawed at the end of the Civil War. She was the seventh of 10 children born to Louisa and David Laney, who were both former slaves; her father had saved enough money to buy his freedom and that of his wife about 20 years before Lucy's birth.[1] Both her parents were strong believers in education and were very giving to strangers; this upbringing would strongly influence Laney in her life. At the time of her birth it was illegal for blacks to read; however with the assistance of Ms. Campbell, the slave owner’s sister, Lucy learned to read at the age of four. She attended Lewis (later Ballard) High School in Macon, Georgia, a mission school run by the American Missionary Association. In 1869 she entered the first class of Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University), where she prepared to be a teacher.[2] She graduated from the school's teacher training program (the Normal Department) in 1873.[1]

Teaching career[edit]

Laney worked as a teacher in Macon, Milledgeville and Savannah, Georgia for ten years before deciding to open a school of her own.[3] Due to health reasons, she settled in Augusta, Georgia, and founded the first school for black children. Her first class in 1883 was six children but Laney attracted interest in the community and by the end of the second year the school had 234 students.

With the increase in students, she needed more funding for her operation. She attended the northern Presbyterian Church Convention in 1886 in Minneapolis and pleaded her case there, but was turned down initially. One of the attendees, Francine E. H. Haines, later declared an interest in and donated $10,000 to Laney for the school. With this money, Laney expanded her offerings. She changed the school's name to The Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in honor of her benefactor and to indicate its goals of industrial and teacher training.

The school eventually grew to encompass an entire city block of buildings. By 1928, the school's enrollment was more than 800 students.[3]

Laney also opened the first black kindergarten and the first black nursing school in Augusta.

NAACP and other organizations[edit]

While living in Augusta, Laney helped to found the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1918. She was also active in other organizations to promote the welfare of blacks and black women: the Interracial Commission, the National Association of Colored Women, and the Niagara Movement. She also helped to integrate the community work that the YMCA and YWCA were engaged in.[1]


In 1974 then Governor Jimmy Carter hung the first portraits of African Americans in the Georgia state capitol: Lucy Craft Laney, the Reverend Henry McNeal Turner, and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. In 1992 she was inducted into "Georgia Women of Achievement."[1]

Death and legacy[edit]

Laney died on October 24, 1933, and is buried at the corner of Laney Walker Boulevard and Phillips Street, where she first founded the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute. Now, Lucy Craft Laney Comprehensive High School occupies the space, though her grave and memorial remain undisturbed.[3][4][5]

Lucy Laney Elementary School in Harris County was named for her.[6] Lucy Craft Laney High School is also named for her. Additionally, Lucy Craft Laney Community School is a Minneapolis Public School serving PK-5th grade students in North Minneapolis named for her.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Lucy Craft Laney (1854–1933)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  2. ^ Leslie, Kent Anderson. "Lucy Craft Laney". The New Georgia Encyclopedia. Georgia Humanities Council and the University of Georgia Press. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Yenser, Thomas, ed. (1933). Who's Who in Colored America: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Persons of African Descent in America 1930-1931-1932 (Third ed.). Brooklyn, New York: Who's Who in Colored America.
  4. ^ Lucy Craft Laney at Find a Grave
  5. ^
  6. ^ Seibert, David. "Lucy Laney Elementary School". GeorgiaInfo: an Online Georgia Almanac. Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved 1 December 2016.

External links[edit]