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Funds and donated labor and goods raised through the AWHS Renaming Project are the sole source of funding to implement all facets of renaming: rebranding public materials; new exterior signage; athletic uniform replacement; school spirit apparel design; changes to the gym floor, field and other athletic facilities; and artistic and educational installations that reflect Archie’s life and the renaming effort. Additional funds raised will support anti-racist programming, curriculum and initiatives.
With your direct, tax-deductible financial contribution and help spreading the word -- and generous pro-bono and in-kind support of others inspired by Archie's legacy -- we'll complete this campaign with falcon speed and efficiency and re-open school in Fall 2021 with new signage, athletic uniforms, and student gear.
Through scrupulous budgeting and extremely generous in-kind donations of time and resources, as well as significantly reduced costs through local and national vendors excited about the opportunity to participate in this historic event, we have been able to reduce the total fundraising need for rebranding and renaming to $120,000.
Archie Williams is best known outside of our community for winning a gold medal in the 400-meter dash in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he, along with Jesse Owens and others, represented the United States. The visible success of Archie and other Black athletes at these games refuted the Nazi myth of Aryan superiority and, at the same time, highlighted the racial discrimination faced when they returned home. It was a watershed moment in our history, as the Civil Rights Movement developed out of the Jim Crow era.
After returning from the Olympics, Archie completed a degree in mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley and then served as a civilian flight instructor with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. He next obtained master’s-level training in meteorology at UCLA, becoming one of the first Black meteorologists in the US. He joined a newly desegregated military, where he served in the Air Weather Service and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1964. Archie then began a third career teaching math and computing at our public high school where, for 21 years, he earned a reputation for being a kind and caring mentor to generations of students: taking a genuine interest in each student; and providing a patient, safe, supportive and healthy educational environment.
Archie saw life as more than something to endure passively; he sought out meaningful challenges, met them, and helped others do the same. His achievements -- academic, athletic and professional -- exemplify a healthy body, mind, and soul.
Honoring Archie and his story encourages all of us to imagine what we might do as we move through life, and, importantly, reminds us of the systemic barriers that many of us still confront. Archie was frank about the injustices that he faced during his life, but they did not define him. He left the world a better place than he found it.
What better lessons can we impart to our children, students and each other?
We are a diverse group of community volunteers, working across age, race, ethnicity and geography to raise funds necessary for the historic renaming of a local public school for a national and local hero, Archie Williams.
Questions? Want to volunteer to help? Contact us at [email protected]il.com.