This report has been contributed by Jayla Moody, a student from Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism.
The Georgia Academy For The Blind was launched in 1851 by a group of local citizens in collaboration with Walter S. Fortescue, a graduate of The Pennsylvania Institute for the Blind.
The group took their idea to local legislation and received money and a lot of support for their project, according to a book by Otis Stephens, In Touch with Learning: A History of the Georgia Academy For The Blind,
Today, the academy has up to 100 students. We were just curious about why the academy is located here in Macon.
Former student and professor Thomas Ridgeway knows exactly why.
Ridgeway graduated from the academy in 1962 and returned in 1966 to teach music and mathematics until 1999 and part time until 2010. He told a story that was passed down to him about the group of Macon citizens who wanted to provide a service for people with disabilities.
“There was a child who caught one of those dread diseases,” Ridgeway said. “It looked like the child was going to die with that fever.”
He said the mother of the child prayed and she told God that if he let her daughter live, she would do something to help less fortunate people.
“The girl did live,” Ridgeway said.
She and some friends got together and started teaching some blind students who were here in Macon.
They were reading to them and teaching them music in a small classroom. They gained support from the community, received a charter and eventually, they received money for a building.
“The school for the blind is not always in the capital city,” Ridgeway said. “They’re often in the cities where people stand up for the rights of the disable.”