The Identity Project: Renaming Our Schools
Many ACPS schools were named during a time in our city and in our country when vastly different attitudes and beliefs guided our decisions. In 2020, a spotlight has shone on the many inequities in today’s society and a new determination to right the wrongs of history has swept the nation. To that end, the School Board answered a call to look again at the morality of naming our city’s only high school after Thomas Chambliss Williams, a staunch segregationist whose views could not have been more inconsistent with the vibrant, diverse and inclusive place we know today. As that process began, questions were raised about the name of Matthew Maury Elementary School. Was it right to immortalize a commander of the Confederate Navy even though he was also a celebrated oceanographer and astronomer? And so began The Identity Project, a wide-reaching community conversation that allowed for all voices to be heard as we look toward a more equitable future in Alexandria.
On November 23, 2020 the Alexandria City School Board voted 9-0 in favor of changing the names of both T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School, consigning to history two individuals whose legacies have no place in Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS).
The second phase of The Identity Project — to decide the new names — will be outlined to the School Board in early December. It will focus on ensuring that students, the community and the voices of the ‘71 Titans, whose story is immortalized in the Disney movie “Remember the Titans,” are heard.