This week, members of the Alexandria City School Board in Virginia voted 9-0 in favor of changing the names of both T.C. Williams High and Matthew Maury Elementary School. The high school takes its name from Thomas Chambliss Williams, a former Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent who strongly opposed the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education and any notions of desegregation. During his time as superintendent, Williams claimed that Black students “learned differently” than their white peers and must be separated from them.
The grade school takes it name from an oceanographer who had served in the Confederate Army and attempted to negotiate a slave trade with Brazil following the Civil War.
The name changes are estimated to cost about $325,000, but upholding the institutions’ claim to fame as a historic ground for acceptance might be priceless.
In the Disney film directed by Boaz Yakin, Denzel Washington starred as the real-life iconic T.C Williams High football coach Herman Boone. Initially assigned to coach the school’s Black team, he deals with his own experiences with racial tensions and integrates the school’s Black and white Titans and leads them to a state championship. The real Boone died in December 2019.
Remember the Titans, which also starred Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Donald Faison and Ryan Gosling, won multiple awards including at the Black Reel Awards, BMI Film & TV Awards and the BET Awards in 2001.
The Alexandria City School Board has yet to decide on a new name for the high school.