A group of Alexandrians, most of who are former students of the Parker-Gray School and other Alexandria schools attended by African American students before integration, formed an ad hoc room naming committee last spring. Their goal was to explore naming rooms at the new Charles Houston Recreation Center in honor of notable African American citizens whom they considered have had an important influence on Alexandria’s past and present. The Center is located on the site of the old Parker-Gray School, and the committee felt that the site is a historic one that is appropriate as a location to recognize outstanding individuals who contributed to the betterment of the African American community.
The Ad Hoc Charles Houston Naming Committee met weekly through the summer and fall to develop criteria and to discuss how to recognize persons of influence who participated in the struggle to advance African Americans in Alexandria economically and socially, and to enhance their education from the 1920s to 1965. The committee’s goal is to preserve the history, heritage and legacy of those who worked hard to help others.
The Committee has recommended that the naming of rooms at the Charles Houston Recreation Center begin with the naming of the gymnasium and the swimming pool. They propose that the gymnasium be named after Coach Louis Johnson and Mr. Morris Siebert, two individuals who made outstanding contributions to the youth of Alexandria.
They have proposed that the swimming pool be named the Memorial Pool in honor of the nine African American youth who drowned in the Potomac River recognizing that before integration African American youths were not permitted to swim in the Alexandria Municipal Pool.
- On September 30, the Ad Hoc Naming Committee held a public hearing on these proposed namings to obtain community input. About 40 people attended the hearing. The Ad Hoc Naming Committee also received petitions in favor of the proposed namings.
- On October 15, the City Council Naming Committee (Councilman Frank Fannon, Councilwoman Del Pepper and City Manager James Hartmann) held a meeting with the Ad Hoc Charles Houston Naming Committee to discuss the naming proposals. The City Council Naming Committee voted unanimously to recommend to City Council that the gymnasium and the pool be named as recommended.
- On November 10, the City Manager recommended that the naming proposals be scheduled for public hearing and consideration.
- City Council scheduled these proposals for public hearing and consideration on Saturday, November 21. The naming of the gymnasium and pool were approved by Council, the Ad Hoc Charles Houston Naming Committee plans to hold a celebration at the Charles Houston Recreation Center in February 2010 during Black History Month.
- Charles Houston Recreation Center Room Naming Dedication Ceremony
The City of Alexandria held a dedication ceremony on Saturday, February 27 at the Charles Houston Recreation Center naming the Center's gymnasium after Coach Louis Johnson and Mr. Morris Siebert, two individuals who made outstanding contributions to the youth of Alexandria. In addition, the swimming pool was named the Memorial Pool in honor of African American youth who drowned in the Potomac River recognizing that before integration African American youths were not permitted to swim in the Alexandria Municipal Pool.
- December 13, 2011 – Charles Houston Naming Committee Seeks Nominations for “Hall of Fame”
The Charles Houston Recreation Center Ad Hoc Naming Committee is seeking nominations from the public for the Recreation’s Center’s Hall of Fame, an area that will honor and memorialize the achievements of history makers in Alexandria’s African American community and document the contributions of the community to Alexandria’s history.
Eligible nominees are individuals, living or deceased, who have done any or all of the following:
- Made significant, inspirational strides in their own lives;
- Contributed to an improvement in the quality of life in the city’s African American community;
- Have had a significant impact on the lives of African Americans in the City of Alexandria;
- Were, or are, associated with a particular movement, organization or group integral to Alexandria’s African American community
Nomination forms may be mailed to Alexandria Black History Museum, c/o Mr. Louis Hicks, Director, 902 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. The nomination form may also be dropped off at the Museum, or scanned and emailed to Louis.firstname.lastname@example.org (PDF files are preferred). Nominations must be received or postmarked by January 6, 2012.
The nominations will be presented for public comment at a community meeting on January 19, at 7 p.m., in the Charles Houston Recreation Center, 901 Wythe St.
- January 19, 2011 - Charles Houston Recreation Center Naming Committee Seeks Nominations
The Ad Hoc Charles Houston Recreation Center Naming Committee, established to honor individuals who made outstanding contributions to Alexandria’s African American community by dedicating recreation center rooms in their honor, seeks nominations of honorees for a second round of dedications. Last year, the Committee facilitated the naming of the recreation center gymnasium and pool.
Specifically, the Committee seeks nominees who fit the following criteria: People who participated in the struggle to advance African Americans economically, socially, educationally, and religiously from the 1920s to 1965, who have made
- a doctrinal or technical contribution;
- an innovation with an identifiable impact on Alexandria's African American community;
- efforts that were an inspiration to others;
- any combination of the above that records the excellence of their achievements for posterity.
The goal of the committee, composed mostly of former students of the Parker-Gray School and other Alexandria schools attended by African American students before integration, is to preserve the history of those whose hard work left a legacy for others to emulate.
Nomination packets may be mailed or dropped off to RPCA, c/o Jack Browand, Division Chief, 1108 Jefferson St., Alexandria, VA 22314. Nominations must be received in person or postmarked by Tuesday, March 1, 2011. For more information, contact Jack Browand, Division Chief, at 703.746.5504 or email@example.com.
Ad Hoc Charles Houston Naming Committee
- Mr. James E. Henson, Sr., Chair
- Mr. Horace Burton
- Mr. Robert Dawkins
- Mr. Willie Gambrell
- Mr. Julian Haley, Jr.
- Mrs. Ramona Hatten
- Mrs. Gwen Henderson
- Mr. John Taylor
- Ms. Dorothy Turner
- Ms. Catherine Ward
- Mr. Andrew Winfree
- City Manager's Office
Michele Evans, Deputy City Manager
Andrea Blackford, Communications Officer
- Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities
William Chesley, Deputy Director, Recreation Services
Jack Browand, Director, Marketing, Public Relations and Special Events
Sheila Whiting, Center Director, Charles Houston Recreation Center
- Office of Historic Alexandria
J. Lance Mallamo, Director
Louis C. Hicks, Director, Black History Museum