Upcoming free tour explores the hidden history of Alexandria’s Parker-Gray neighborhood

Parker-Gray School (photo via City of Alexandria)

While Alexandria is known for its history, an upcoming free tour later this month will take locals into the underexplored stories of the city’s Parker-Gray neighborhood.

Parker-Gray native Michael Johnson, who recently won the Alexandria Historical Society’s T. Michael Miller award for his work raising awareness of issues with the Douglass Memorial Cemetery, is hosting a tour of the neighborhood on Saturday, May 20, from 10-11 a.m. Johnson will be accompanied by an 80-year-old Parker-Gray resident who can help tell some stories from the neighborhood’s history.

Johnson said the goal of the tour is to familiarize residents of the neighborhood and others interested in Alexandria’s history with some of the overlooked stories of one of the city’s most prominent centers of Black history.

“People don’t know [Parker-Gray] at all,” Johnson said. “A lot of the African-American history in this city has been overlooked.”

Johnson said while new residents are encouraged to come and learn more about the history of the neighborhood, many already-established residents may not be aware of the significant historical events and people associated with the neighborhood.

“We’re already losing [that history],” Johnson said. “These kids didn’t learn this history. I didn’t learn this until I was in my 40s.”

Johnson said the tour will cover the Parker-Gray School, the Alexandria Black History Museum (originally a segregated library), and the home and offices of Samuel Tucker — a local civil rights leader.

The tour is free, but advance registration is required.