New Huntsville Schools to be Named After Mae Jemison, Sonnie Hereford III & IV, Ronald McNair

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The name "J.O. Johnson" will not follow the school to its new location when the school moves to its new campus on Pulaski Pike Northwest.

The school board approved the name "Mae Jemison High School" for the new location.  Jemison, a Decatur native, was the first black woman in space.  Her eight-day mission in September of 1992 aboard STS-47 completed 127 orbits of the Earth.  That mission included 44 Japanese and U.S. life science and materials processing experiments. Jemison, who holds a doctorate degree in medicine from Cornell University, was a co-investigator on the bone cell research experiment flown on the mission, according to her NASA biography.

Also, it was determined that the new elementary school in the Terry Heights area will be named the Sonnie Hereford Elementary School, in honor of Dr. Sonnie Hereford III and Sonnie Hereford IV, according to Huntsville City Schools Director of ETV / Communications Keith Ward.  Sonnie Hereford IV is credited with being the first black student enrolled at a public school in Alabama.

Ward also said the new middle school near Pulaski Pike will take the name of another black astronaut, Dr. Ronald McNair.  Students that currently attend Ed White and Davis Hills middle schools will attend McNair as soon as it opens. McNair died when the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart shortly after launch in 1986, along with six other crew-members.

Ward said that it was determined that Grissom High School would retain that name when the school moves to its new location off Weatherly Road.


  • Sue von Kamp

    It is tacky to name something after someonne that is still living. Sounds like Tom Bevil is around naming things.

  • Jonathan

    I had Dr. Hereford for a biology class at Calhoun over a decade ago. I never even knew about this! Let me say that the man is absolutely brilliant. He was one of my favorite teachers. Brilliant.

  • Bob

    Black schools named for blacks which will soon enough be on the fail list. Of course Grissom will stay Grissom which won’t be on the fail list. Hummmm.

  • Jaguar4Ever

    As a J.O Johnson High School alum I am saddened by this news. What is the point of changing the names? Also, why change J.O.J but not Grissom? NW never had a chance. RIP J.O.J

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.