Ferdinand T. Day – “A Champion of Champions”

Behind the scene of the Alexandria Gazette story on Mr. Ferdinand T. Day dated February 8, 2018.

Prior to 2009, I made weekly visits to the Alexandria Black History Museum (ABHM). In my weekly visits to the ABHM, I saw Mr. Ferdinand Day. Unlike many Alexandrians, I did not know Mr. Day. I am a first generation Alexandrian; and, the history of Alexandria was never highlighted in the City School system in 1960s and 1970s. So seeing and hearing about

Ferdinand T. Day
1918 – 2015

Mr. Day and his contribution to the City of Alexandria made me wanted to know more about him. I inquired about Mr. Day in the community; and, I asked the Director of the ABHM to introduce me to Mr. Day. After arrangements were made for me to meet with Mr. Day and his daughter, our friendship grew. Those years with Mr. Day were precious years. He was the professor and I was the student. The knowledge that I gained from my visits with him will last me a life time.

For about three years, we spent six to eight hours a month, talking about the history of Alexandria and all of the people that he knew throughout his life. Somehow, I felt that he was preparing me for a journey that I will soon take. What is obvious to me now, the journey that Mr. Day guided me through, was to tell the story of Alexandria’s African Americans in the context of the history of Alexandria. This was indeed a rare opportunity to sit at the table and learn from a man who had spent his life in making his beloved City a better place.

For Mr. Day’s family history in Alexandria, it started with his grandfather, George Day. George was born in Culpeper, Virginia in 1850. He and his brother, Taylor Day, were living in Culpeper in 1870. After 1870, George Day migrated to Prince William, Virginia where he married his first wife, Lucretia Robinson, on 14 October 1873. On his marriage license, he stated that his parents were Robert Day and Rosetta (Rose) Day. By 1880, George and his brother, Taylor, were living in Alexandria on Gibbon Street. On 24 December 1886, George married his second wife, Mary J. E. Vaughn. He and his wife had the following children: Edmonia V., Ferdinand T., Robert W. Jr., Emma, and Rose M.

Robert W. Day was Ferdinand T. Day’s father. Ferdinand was named after his uncle, Ferdinand. Robert W. Day married Victorine Johnson. They had the following children: Lawrence D., Quentin B., Robert W., Ferdinand T., George W., Mary V., and Clarence.

Mr. Ferdinand T. Day’s brother, Robert, was named after his father Robert. Robert Jr., gave up his seat at Armstrong High School so that Ferdinand could attend. Robert late enlisted in the military and served during World War II. He died 7 March 1966 at the age of 48.

Ferdinand T. Day married Lucille Peatross. They had one daughter, Gwen Day.

Prior to Mr. Day getting married, he lived at 402½ South Royal Street. His childhood was made up of family, friends, neighbors, teachers, and clergymen. Those people were the main focus of our monthly talks. He enjoyed talking about his childhood and his community activism. Although he came from humble beginnings, he really enjoyed his life and the people of his beloved City.

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