The History of Alexandria's High Schools

Front of T.C. Williams High School

    T.C. Williams High School initially opened its doors in 1965, and graduated its first class in June 1967. At the time, it was one of three public high schools along with George Washington High School and Francis C. Hammond High School. Parker-Gray High School, which served black high school students from 1950 onward, had begun to phase out grades in the early 1960s. By 1964, its students had been integrated into other schools. In order to build T.C. Williams High School in the 1960s, land was acquired by eminent domain from the community of African-Americans who owned the houses on and near the current Parker-Gray Memorial Field.

    The new high school was named after former ACPS superintendent Thomas Chambliss Williams (mid-1930s - mid-1960s), a supporter of perpetuating segregation, and a man who did everything possible to slow down the process of integration in Alexandria.

    In 1971 the city consolidated all high school students into T.C. Williams, so that the school became Alexandria's only public senior high school serving 11th and 12th graders. The city's freshmen and sophomores attended Francis C. Hammond High School and George Washington High School. Although T.C. Williams and George Washington were already integrated in 1971, Hammond was nearly all white, while the city was about one-fifth black.

    The story of Alexandria’s struggle to desegregate its schools is immortalized in the Disney movie, Remember the Titans (2000), about the high school's football team.

    T.C. Williams High School’s current building opened in 2008 on the same site as the original 1965 building. The gym was named after Gerry Bertier — a member of the Titans' 1971 state championship football team — who was paralyzed in a car crash. The basketball court was named in honor of Earl Lloyd, who attended Parker-Gray High School and was the first African-American to play in the NBA. The football stadium is named Parker-Gray Stadium in deference to the former pre-segregation high school.

    There have been calls for many years to reevaluate the name of T.C. Williams High School. Many feel is it is not representative of its diverse student body. The name of T.C. Williams may be something that is reevaluated as part of the High School Project further down the line.