At virtual rally, more calls to change name of Alexandria’s TC Williams High

People in favor of changing the name of Alexandria, Virginia’s famous public high school, which bears the name of a pro-segregationist, came together for an online rally Sunday.

Dozens of people took part in the virtual discussion on why T.C. Williams High School needs to put its racist past behind it.

Thomas Chambliss Williams, the school’s namesake, was superintendent of Alexandria city public schools for 30 years and supported keeping black and white students separated.

The school opened in 1965. Years later, in 1971, Alexandria consolidated all high schools into T.C. Williams.

Event moderator Lindsey Vick, who is also a T.C. Williams graduate, invited members of the NAACP’s Alexandria chapter to speak. She noted failed attempts over the past few decades to change the name and believes it must succeed this time around.

“It can’t fail this time,” said Vick. “We owe better to our students, to our families. We owe better to the people who came before us and the people who came after us.”

Glenn Hopkins, who runs the local nonprofit Hopkins House, was behind one such cause to change the school name in 1998 but is renewing his commitment during a national climate that is demanding an end to systemic racism.

“What I’m saying today is we absolutely must change the name of T.C. Williams High School,” said Hopkins.

The Alexandria high school is most known for its 1971 integrated football team made famous in the film “Remember the Titans.”

An effort to change the school name in 2004 was defeated because many feared the legacy of the school’s football team would be forgotten.

Last week at a separate virtual meeting, the chair of the Arlington City Public Schools Board of Education told members that the matter of school names will take time, requiring a “transparent process,” and that it will come up during ongoing school budget negotiations.

“It’s not to delay or kick the can down the road,” said BOE Chair Cindy Anderson. “We need to reach deeper than names and have a bigger conversation.”

Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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