Born in Georgia on April 13, 1854. Lucy Craft Laney was the daughter of free parents. Her father, David Laney was a Presbyterian minister and skilled carpenter. Twenty years before Lucy was born, he purchased the freedom for himself, and his future wife Louisa (Lucy’s mother). Lucy Laney was a gifted child, learning to read and write by the age of four. By the time she was 12 years old, she was capable of translating difficult passages in Latin.
In 1869, at the age of 15, she already graduated High School and was set to attend Atlanta University. She became a member of the first graduating class in the school’s history. After graduating from the school’s teachers training program, she became a teacher for ten years in different parts of Georgia.
In 1883, she opened her own school in the basement of Christ Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia. Her school was initially for girls only, that all changed when several boys showed up for school and she decided to take them on as pupils also. By the end of the 2nd school year, she had over 200 melanated students. Three years after establishing the school the state licensed it as Haines Normal and Industrial Institute.
The School was named after E.H Haines, a lifelong benefactor of the school and he donated $10,000 to establish the institute. In the 1890s Lucy’s school was the first to offer kindergarten classes for African American students. By 1912, her school employed thirty-four teachers, and had over nine hundred students enrolled. In 1918, she helped establish the Augusta branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Lucy would also help out with other organizations like The National Association of Colored Women and The Niagara Movement. Her commitment to the empowerment and improvement of our community should serve as an inspiration for all of us.