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Newtown Florist Club forums to explore desegregation, closure of E.E. Butler High
The old E.E. Butler High School - photo by Tom Reed

The Newtown Florist Club has recognized Black History Month this February with some frank conversations on topics including Black businesses, vaccine information and civic engagement.

In the final full week, the civil rights group plans to hold two virtual forums, discussing the impacts of school desegregation and the closure of E.E. Butler High School in 1969. The first forum will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 22.

The second forum, on Wednesday, Feb. 24, is a part of a weekly series featuring community historian John Butts Sr. Butts weekly shares his historical stories and anecdotes from Gainesville’s Black community.

Both forums are available to the public via Zoom and Facebook Live. To register, email

E.E. Butler High School, which opened its doors in 1962 — in the middle of the civil rights movement — was an education space reserved for Gainesville’s Black high school students. 

Forum on desegregation

What: Virtual forums by Newtown Florist Club on EE. Butler High School and desegregation

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 22 and 24

Where: Zoom and Facebook Live. To register, email

The school was dedicated posthumously to Emmett E. Butler in 1963. Butler, a Macon native, opened a medical practice in Gainesville, where he worked until his death in 1955.

The school was constructed while the last class of students enrolled at Fair Street School, which taught students K through 12 which closed in 1962. 

In its first year of operation in August 1962, E.E. Butler had 515 students and 18 teachers.

In 1969, a Supreme Court ruling in the Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education case ordered immediate desegregation of public schools in the South and subsequently, required Gainesville High to be integrated. Integration led to the eventual closure of Butler that same year.