WASHINGTON — The first African-American man ever to serve as chairman of a Virginia school board has died.
Alexandria city officials are calling the passing of Ferdinand Day the loss of a legend. Day was a driving force in integrating Alexandria schools during the late 1950s and early 1960s, with the process finishing in 1971.
Back in 1964, the Alexandria native was appointed the first African-American to Alexandria’s school board. He would help lead the board and the city to an integrated school system by 1971, reconciling Alexandria’s segregated past.
The integration of T.C. Williams High School inspired the 2000 film “Remember the Titans,” a film that focused on the school’s football team during integration.
“He was a dear friend, confidant, mentor and role model, not only for me, but for many others who put their trust and faith in Ferdinand to give us guidance and hope,” said Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille. “He was and always will be an ‘Alexandria Living Legend.'”
Day died at his home at the age of 96.