WASHINGTON — A petition has been submitted to the Alexandria City School Board to change the name of T.C. Williams High School, the only public high school in the city of Alexandria.
The man for whom it’s named, Thomas Chambliss Williams, was a segregationist who was the superintendent of Alexandria city schools for 30 years. He was very outspoken about his beliefs to keep black students and white students in separate schools.
But now, Alexandria residents want his name scrubbed from the school.
T.C. Williams High School is best known for its depiction in the Disney movie "Remember the Titans" starring Denzel Washington. Based on the true story of football coach Herman Boone, it portrays Boone's efforts to integrate the T.C. Williams High School football team back in 1971.
In 2004, when residents tried to change the name, one of the reasons it was not changed was out of fear that that famed 1971 Titans football team would be forgotten.
"You can ‘Remember the Titans’ without honoring TC Williams," Alexandria resident Marc Solomon said. "The movie wasn’t called ‘Remember TC Williams.'"
Solomon started a petition to rename the high school for a simple reason.
“I haven’t found one person who can say one nice thing about T.C. Williams the man," Solomon said. "I have never met one person who can say one positive thing about him, which is weird. I mean folks find reasons to keep names of other places and I can’t find one."
T.C. Williams was the superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools from the mid-1930s to mid-1960s, and was opposed to desegregation in schools, refusing to allow black students to learn alongside their white neighbors.
“The hurt is still real and there are people --our neighbors -- that were directly affected by this," Solomon said. "I think it’s wrong to honor this guy."
Solomon said many replacement names have been tossed around, including Alexandria City High School, John Porter High School (named after the long time principal) and Herman Boone High, after the football coach of the 1971 Titans.
“There was that team, and that high school brought people together, but you know, that was a different high school," Solomon said. "They tore that building down 15 years ago and built this new one. And as Alexandria goes forward, and we’re going to be building extensions to this high school across the city, it seems like a great time to revisit that name and maybe pick something that our kids will be proud of."
WUSA9 reached out to the school board for comment, and the board responded with their policy for changing school names, saying the board will consider it.
According to the residents who filed the petition, it meets the board's requirements for consideration of a name change, and will be reviewed in the fall.