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East Atlanta Principal Passes

By Henry Bryant

At a critical time in the history of East Atlanta, Peggy Geren became the principal of Burgess Elementary School, one of the institutions that blended years later into Burgess Peterson Academy, on the site of the old Burgess school. She was principal during the Civil Rights era when area schools were under desegregation orders.

When Gwen Mosby moved to East Atlanta with her family, they were one of the first black families to integrate the neighborhood. As a teacher, she helped integrate the faculty of Burgess, while the Mosby children, including Councilmember Natalyn Mosby Archibong and her brothers, helped integrate the student body. According to Mosby, Principal Geren was the insistent, fair, and steady hand that guided the process to achieve racial balance and harmony at the school. As a white educator, she interviewed and hired black teachers who brought diversity and balance to the school. She led the staff, students, and families to celebrate the diversity of the community during a volatile time.

Ms. Geren passed at the age of 97 on October 19, 2020. There are some in the community who still remember her service and mourn her passing. She will be buried with her beloved husband next summer in Arkansas where she was born and raised.

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