To the editor:
Each spring, Alexandria residents see signs reading “T.C. Williams Senior” on countless lawns around the city as seniors celebrate their accomplishments and the culmination of their grade school education. Just about anyone who has lived in the city for some time knows someone who attended T.C. Williams High School. As Alexandria’s only public high school for nearly 50 years, it has become part and parcel of life here.
In recent years and particularly in recent months, there has been a growing effort to strip the school of any reference to Williams and to rename it in honor of some other figure. Proponents of renaming the school often cite the need to remove T.C. Williams’s name from the school due to his tenure as superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools during which he resisted integration.
What these voices fail to consider is the time in which T.C. Williams served as superintendent – the 1930s into the 1960s. During this time segregation was the norm not just in education, but in nearly all aspects of life. Similarly, slavery was the norm during the time of Washington, Jefferson and Franklin.
While I might have once offered the rhetorical question, “Are we going to re-name schools named in Washington’s honor too?” this year has shown us that the hatred of the mob knows no bounds and that they will in fact call for the erasure of American history and the disparagement of important figures no matter how exalted they are in the American mythology.
In years past, conversations about removing a Columbus statue in Chicago or renaming T.C. Williams High School would be considered with clarity but largely shrugged off for what they are – ridiculous requests.
The effort to rename T.C. Williams High School is not about racial injustice or a felt sense of anxiety or victimhood experienced by minority students at the school. In fact, I’d bet good money that many of them don’t even know who T.C. Williams was. This is just the latest step in the outrage mob’s long march through the institutions and their efforts to erase and ultimately rewrite American history.
To be sure, just as with any civilization, we have made mistakes and have been the perpetrators of injustice. But at the end of the day, all of that is our history as Americans. Columbus, Washington, Lee, Williams — it’s all our heritage as Americans, Virginians and Alexandrians.
Perhaps some are willing to gladly surrender their American identity and history for some perceived profit in brownie points or sloganeering but I, for one, will not be going along with this attack on our civilization and the historic American nation.
Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, the Alexandria School Board and all Alexandrians should think long and hard about where this road of erasing American history will take us. I don’t want to find out.
-Conley Lowrance, Alexandria