'Able' Mable Thomas and the Former English Avenue Elementary School
On January 14th, 2013, Representative "Able" Mabel Thomas was sworn into the Georgia House of Representatives. A native and resident of English Avenue and long-time activist and politician, Thomas first gained broad political exposure in 1984 at the Democratic National Convention. She went on to serve two terms in the Georgia House (before her 2013 reelection) and contested Representative John Lewis for his US House seat in the 2008 election.
Thomas has played a leading role in various redevelopment efforts in English Avenue and Vine City. One of the most notable recent projects imagines new possibilities for the site of the former English Avenue Elementary School, located at 615 English Ave NW. Constructed in 1910 and expanded multiple times thereafter, the building has been mostly closed since 1995. The campus is both massive and historic. On December 13, 1960, in the midst of calls for school desegregation, sit-ins, and downtown business boycotts, English Avenue Elementary was bombed. As founder of the Greater Vine City Opportunities Program, Inc., Thomas envisions the historical site as a "Global Community Center."
The project's website offers the following explanation in more detail: "our Vision for the English Avenue Community Center is as we move self-determined into the 21st century, we propose to renovate the Historic English Avenue School to once again, serve as an anchor where community residents, stakeholders, wise teachers, and specialist are housed to provide careful stewardship for our local human resources. We will offer an Intergenerational range of services for the core population of the neighborhood and serve as a jump- start of neighborhood revitalization throughout the Westside."