The Alexandria City Council, under pressure from the black community to provide a fitting memorial to two turn-of-the-century black educators, voted unanimously last night to provide the city's former blacks-only library for use as a museum and meeting place.
The structure at 638 N. Alfred St. in Old Town will be leased for a dollar a year to the Parker-Gray Alumni Association and the Alexandria Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage.
Parker-Gray High School, named after Robert Parker and Sarah Gray, the principals of the city's first black elementary schools, was the city's only black high school until it was desegregated in the 1950s. It was closed in the 1970s and the city now plans to sell it to developers. Because it is near the future Braddock Road Metro station, it is expected to bring at least $6 million.
In the past few months, retention of the Parker-Gray name has become a rallying point for the school's alumni and others in the black community.
The City Council repeatedly rejected a proposal backed by the 125-member Parker-Gray Alumni Association to rename the Metro stop Parker-Gray, claiming that the $300,000 it would cost to change the name throughout the subway system would be exorbitant.
The alternative approved last night provides use of the old Robinson Library building for five years at $1 a year with an agreement to extend the arrangement for a second five years.
The library, a one-story structure built in 1940, operated as a segregated facility until 1959 and was closed in 1969.
Alumni Association members Roger Anderson and Harry T. Burke said last night they were pleased with the council's action but do not consider it a final solution. Their goal is to be permitted to acquire from the North Alfred Street Baptist Church the church's original building, which is slated to be demolished for a parking lot for a new church built next door.