The Atlanta Public Schools Archives & Museum is selling to kids its exciting history

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The Atlanta Public Schools Archives & Museum draws connections between the school system's many accomplished alumni as it chronicles the district's rich history. A few of the famous folk who once roamed the hallways of an Atlanta school: boxer Evander Holyfield; comic Nipsey Russell; civil rights advocate Vernon Jordan; and TV judge Glenda Hatchett. Former mayors Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson attended Atlanta schools, as did construction magnate Herman Russell and Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy. From the now closed Archer High School came singer Gladys Knight and Olympian Edith McGuire Duvall.

Historian Cathy Loving insists every visitor sign the guest book at the Atlanta school district's low-profile museum and archive.

As they're writing, she says, "You know, you're leaning on history."

The guest book sits on a wooden counter that Loving says Martin Luther King Jr.'s parents stood before when they enrolled their son in David T. Howard Grammar Junior High School back in the 1930s. Just a few yards away, a glass case contains ticket stubs from the premiere later in the decade of the movie "Gone With the Wind." Author Margaret Mitchell also attended Atlanta Public Schools. King sang in a choir that performed at the premiere.

Citing security concerns, Loving won't say how much the clearly valuable collection is worth. It recently moved from the old Howard School on John Wesley Dobbs to a former gym on the campus of the renovated New Schools of Carver, formerly Carver High. The district's longtime historian and archivist, Loving has covered the walls from floor to rafters with photos, paintings and artifacts.

The museum is a testament to African-Americans who succeeded at a time when opportunities were few. For example, David T. Howard, for whom King's school was named, was a mortician, philanthropist and one of Atlanta's first black millionaires.

The school system's history is central to understanding the city's past, said Karen Kelly, director of education at the Atlanta History Center, one of several museums that has worked with Loving.

"It's a really fascinating story," Kelly said. "Atlanta Public Schools had a fairly peaceful integration and that's important to the city's history."

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