In terms of surprises, I would not have thought William would come up. But this chapter includes the many names that are on the Bronze Trees in the Alexandria African American Heritage Park. Perhaps William was a common name at that time.
In terms of paradoxes, the quite obvious one is Parker Gray itself and by extension, “Uptown.”
But I must say that in terms of historical markers for black history, there has been an extraordinary effort in the last several years.
State highway markers are the most difficult to bring to fruition, and four have been put up. One is for the 1939 Library Sit-In led by Samuel Tucker on Washington Street. Two is the Parker Gray High School on Pendleton Street. Three is the Shiloh Baptist Church on Duke Street, four is the Roberts Memorial United Methodist Church on S. Washington Street and five is the Beulah Baptist Church also on S. Washington Street. In addition to this, there is also the magisterial Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial.
We’ve heard a lot lately about removing or moving things in Alexandria, and rightfully so we discuss these sensitive matters. But that’s just the easy way out and probably is not always the right thing to do.
Better to put new things up that show who participated in the struggle to achieve human rights for all the people and those who supported and support them. In the case of African American history in Alexandria, we are seeing shining examples of such actions.