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Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere

By Mike Manley

The premiere of the three-part documentary series entitled, “The Amazing Legacy of Turner High School, We Claim the Rights” opened to rave reviews this past Saturday at Kipp Atlanta Collegiate, 98 Anderson Avenue, at the former campus of HM Turner High School. It has been a project 10 years in the making Inspired by Turner High alumni Mike Manley ’74. His wife Valarie Wright Manley, MD ‘76 whom he met at Turner 50 years ago has been faithfully by his side.

The documentary is produced by filmmaker Rory Christian who has been involved in the project from its inception. Jay Wilson, Writer and Director, was personally recruited by Mike’s wife, Dr. Manley who ironically was the Pediatrician of Jay’s children. Atlanta native Jeremy Harris is the primary editor.

This documentary highlights some of the Amazing accomplishments of Turner High graduates including being the first to integrate two of Georgia’s prestigious universities – The University of Georgia (UGA) and Georgia Tech.

It is common knowledge that Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes integrated UGA in 1961. Buildings on the UGA campus and streets in the city of Atlanta have been named in honor of their groundbreaking achievements. However, until recently, it has been mostly uncelebrated that another Turner Graduate, Mary Frances Early, was the first Black to graduate from UGA Graduate program. The Education building on UGA’s campus is now named in her honor. Ms. Early, in 1953 was the valedictorian of Turner’s first Graduating class and penned the words to Turner’s school song.

Ralph Long, Jr., another Turner trailblazer, has been extremely instrumental in the development of this project. He assisted with attaining interviews with Turner graduates including Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Superior Court Judge and Emory Law School graduate Marvin Arrington and Ford Green. Ford Green was the other Turner alumni that integrated Georgia Tech along with Ralph Long, Jr.. Bronze statues of Mr. Long and Mr. Green on Georgia Tech’s campus now enshrines their accomplishments in perpetuity.

The documentary was supported by the Henry McNeal Turner High National Alumni Association and its past President Dorothy Thomas Swann and current President Dr Althea Bolton. Mrs. Thomas was instrumental in providing access to valuable archival pictures and yearbooks. Because of their leadership and the devotion of the alumni, The Turner Alumni Association is the second oldest Atlanta Pubic School Alumni Association and celebrated its twenty-first year Anniversary of the Annual Scholarship Prayer Breakfast. The association presented twenty-two $1,500 scholarships to deserving high School seniors . This year’s Breakfast featured Spoken word Artist Ryan Jones (also featured in the Turner Documentary) and Mike Manley ‘74, who celebrated his 50-year graduation anniversary from Turner.

The Historical relevance of Turner High, its alumni, and the influence of the school’s namesake Bishop Henry McNeal Turner was highlighted by Reverend Dr. Gregory Eason Sr., Senior Pastor at Flipper Temple AME Church, APS historians Cathy Loving and Erika Brayboy. In addition, famed historian Karcheik Sims-Alvarado, Ph.D. contributed to this production.

The film also highlights other significant Alumni and their experiences and contributions including, Carolyn Long Banks (first Black female elected to the Atlanta City Council and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee [SNCC] activist), Wilma Long Blanding (APS Principal and SNCC activist), Carl Seldon (first Black professional golfer in Georgia), Betty Strickland, Ph.D. (first Black Female Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools), Barbara Hatton, Ph.D. (one of the first Black females to get a Ph.D. at Stanford University), Maceo Brown of System Five Electronics, Michael Thrasher Commercial Contractor that help develop Atlanta Hartsfield Airport fifth runway), John Waters, Ph.D. (first Turner Graduate to earn a Ph.D.), Reverend Dr William Freeman (graduated in first class at Turner), Principal Wallace Bibbs (APS Principal), Lowell Dickerson (Business owner and brother in law of Donita Gaines), Donita Gaines (integrated Northside High School, now called North Atlanta High School), and Doris Thomas Shroud (co-organizer and founder of Turner’s National Alumni Association). Along with coaches Raymond “Tweet “ Williams, Leila Glover, and Richard Lowe to name a few.

Principal Arthur Washington allowed the documentary to be viewed at KIPP Atlanta Collegiate – at the campus of what was formerly Henry McNeal Turner High School.


Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta's Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere
Atlanta’s Henry McNeal Turner High School Documentary Premiere

Last updated on April 19, 2024

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