T.C. Williams High School is known around the world for the 2000 movie Remember the Titans, which focused on its 1971 state championship-winning varsity football team that found greatness by working through racial adversity. Coach Boone and his assistant coach Yoast remained best friends throughout their lives and continued coaching and teaching at T.C. for decades.
Boone’s daughter Sharon Henderson spoke on behalf of both families.
“Now, we all know that the blockbuster movie ‘Remember the Titans’ put T.C. Williams High School in many households around the country, while it forever carved our fathers’ names in the history books of the world,” Henderson said. “But I wanted to be known that these two men did things far greater for the community of Alexandria than what was portrayed in that movie. You see, both men share the history of being relentless advocates for students toward social justice and equality. Because of their determination to make a difference many young people benefited from their leadership on and off the football field, and today are hugely successful in their own lives.”
Henderson made the comments in a public hearing with the School Board on whether it should vote to rename T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School.
“It will certainly be one of the greatest honors that the legacies of both men could receive from the city that they both loved so much. I believe it would also communicate the city’s commitment to inclusion for all of the extremely diverse student and community demographics of Alexandria, Virginia,” Henderson said.
The Board did not comment during the public hearing, and only received public testimony. Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. will present a report with recommendations with new names to the School Board in the spring of 2021, according to ACPS.
Thomas Chambliss Williams was the superintendent of ACPS for 30 years. He required that all Black students wanting admission to previously all-white schools to go through an application process. Only 75 Black students (about 3%) were allowed to transfer to formerly white schools by the time Williams announced his retirement in 1962, and that was three years after the city officially desegregated schools.
Matthew Maury was the first Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory and the first hydrographer of the U.S. Navy. He was also special agent for the Confederacy during the Civil War and has a statue in Richmond.
As previously reported, Williams required that all Black students wanting admission to previously all-white schools to go through an application process. Only 75 Black students (about 3%) were allowed to transfer to formerly white schools by the time Williams announced his retirement in 1962, and that was three years after the city officially desegregated schools. Williams was also investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for firing Blois Hundley, a cook at Lyles Crouch Elementary School. Hundley joined the lawsuit seeking to desegregate ACPS, and Williams was “outraged” when he found out about her participation.
Michele Chapman, a 1974 graduate of T.C., is the mother of City Councilman John Taylor Chapman, and her three siblings also graduated from Alexandria’s only high school. She said that T.C. Williams was not the kind of man that children should emulate.
“It is never too late to right a wrong,” said Chapman. “I want to thank you for affording us the opportunity to express our feelings to, to remind you that we as a community should never reward bad behavior.”
Photo via Living Legends of Alexandria