The school was built on land taken by eminent domain from a nearby black community and then was named in honor of Superintendent Thomas Chambliss Williams. Williams was an ardent segregationist who fought not only to keep the black and white students divided, but fired a school employee who tried to get her children sent to an integrated school.
A Facebook group played a prominent role in spreading a petition to rename the school, though efforts have since grown beyond just renaming T.C. Advocates also say Matthew Maury Elementary School, named after Confederate leader and oceanographer Matthew Maury, should be renamed as well.
In neighboring Arlington County, Washington-Lee High School was renamed Washington-Liberty early last year.
Defenders of the T.C. Williams name, which have popped up in the Facebook group, say the school’s name is part of a legacy beyond Williams — frequently citing the mostly inaccurate film Remember the Titans.
Staff photo by Vernon Miles