Redefining the Titans: From its origins to today
T.C. Williams High School (renamed Alexandria City High School in July 2021) initially opened its doors in 1965 and graduated its first class in June 1967. It was one of the country’s 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, the 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.
Oral Histories from the City Archives
Maydell Casey Belk (Page 12, 29 homes taken by eminent domain)
Julia Bradby (Page 19, describes property adjacent to T.C. Williams)
Elizabeth Douglas (Page 29, Macedonia area adjacent to T.C. Williams)
Lucian Johnson (Page 6, fight to preserve land around T.C. Williams)
Charles McKnight (Pages 21-24, African Americans were bussed to Manassas, past six white schools)
Dorothy Hall Smith and Barbara Ashby Gordon (Pages 10-11, discussion on the ride to Manassas to school and how fortunate African American students felt when they could attend school in Washington)
Louisa Smucker (Pages 6-11, white family who lived on a farm/plantation on Quaker Lane near the current Alexandria City High School whose relatives sold George Washington's Mount Vernon estate to its current owners, the Ladies Association)
The new high school was named after former ACPS superintendent Thomas Chambliss Williams (mid-1930s-1963), a supporter of perpetuating segregation, and a man who did everything possible to slow down the process of integration in Alexandria.
Minutes of Alexandria City School Board Meeting – February 14, 1962 (PDF)
Minutes of Alexandria City School Board Meeting – January 10, 1962 (PDF)
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 who went on to win the state football championship in 1971.
Board v. Brown and Titan Football
In 1974, three years following the city’s high school consolidation, Superintendent John Albohm, who had worked with the School Board to achieve desegregation, announced; “This year, we have finally reorganized our elementary schools and, in a broad sense, have completed the desegregation of our school system kindergarten through grade 12”.
Alexandria City 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.
Alexandria City High School Today
The TODAY Show: ’Remember The Titans’ School Marks 65 Years Since Milestone Education Ruling
Today, Alexandria City High School is internationally recognized, diverse, and situated at the heart of Alexandria’s education system. It is a comprehensive high school with a current enrollment of approximately 4,000 students in grades 9-12. The mission of Alexandria City High School is to develop lifelong learning and inspire civic responsibility by ensuring that every student is equipped with the educational resources needed to succeed.