The Alexandria School Board decided last night to rename some school facility for two black educators. But the board couldn't decide which facility to rename and was chided by its chairman for "racial tension."
Chairman Alison May asserted: "In eight years on the board I have never witnessed the kinds of racial tension that I have seen at board meetings this year . . . . Frankly, I feel that what is going on at board meetings is not helping the city . . . It is not reflective of what the students are doing."
May did not elaborate, but the board had just rejected a proposal by member Claudia Waller to name the vocational education center at T. C. Williams High School Parker-Gray. John F. Parker and Sarah H. Gray were principals of the all-black boys' and girls' schools in the city after the Civil War.
The school now called Parker-Gray is to be closed, and attempts to change the name of the George Washington School to Parker-Gray was defeated two months ago after an outcry from George Washington graduates. Blacks have strongly objected to the possibility that the name Parker-Gray will disappear.
Board member John O. Peterson said at last night's meeting that the proposal to apply the name Parker-Gray to the vocational center "shows a complete lack of sensitivity as to where the black community is. If we want to increase tension, then we should pass this motion, which equates blacks with vocational education." Peterson is one of three blacks on the board.
Peterson then proposed the motion to preserve the name without specifying where it will be used. Board member Michael Mulroney voted against it, Waller abstained and the seven other members voted for it.