After releasing its shortlist of possible names earlier this month, the Alexandria City School Board has chosen an Alexandrian civil rights activist and longtime ACPS board member as the West End elementary school’s namesake.
The school board voted to name the school Ferdinand Day Elementary School in honor of Ferdinand T. Day, an ACPS board member and eventual chairman. He was the first black school board member in Virginia and the first black school board chairman. Day was at the helm of the board when the city was integrating high school students at T.C. Williams High School in 1971.
Day, who was born in 1918, attended the segregated Parker-Gray Elementary School until seventh grade and, as there was no integrated public high school at the time, decided to attend high school in D.C. He graduated from high school in 1935 and graduated from Minor Teachers College in D.C. with a B.S. He worked for the U.S. Department of State until his retirement in 1978. He became an ACPS board member in 1964, ten years after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education landmark decision, when city council expanded the board from 6 to 9 members and appointed him, according to his 2007 “Living Legend” profile.
In addition to serving as an ACPS board member, he acted as vice chairman of the Northern Virginia and the Virginia State Board of Community Colleges and in 1985 was selected by the Secretary of Education to assist in implementing the Virginia desegregation plan for higher education. Day died at the age of 96 in Alexandria on Jan. 2, 2015.
Ferdinand Day Elementary School, located at 1701 N. Beauregard St., is set to open in September.