Personality: Greta J. Randolph

Spotlight on president of the Armstrong-Walker Football Classic Legacy Project

11/23/2022, 6 p.m.
For 40 years, the Maggie L. Walker and Armstrong high schools competed in football games where the students’ competitive spirit ...

For 40 years, Maggie L. Walker and Armstrong high schools competed in football games where the students’ competitive spirit was only matched by the camaraderie and community spirit that the classes and their respective schools brought to Richmond.

Decades after Maggie Walker and Armstrong high schools merged, Greta J. Randolph is working to keep alive the two schools' spirit. As president of the Armstrong-Walker Football Classic Legacy Project, Ms. Randolph is leading the effort to preserve the memory of an important chapter in Richmond’s Black community.

“It is to keep our history alive while educating future generations about the only two high schools in Richmond that Black students could attend,” says Ms. Randolph of the Legacy Project. “It is about the pride, rivalry, competition, friendships, and all that came out of 40 years of the Armstrong-Walker Football Classic.”

Founded by the late Cary Mitchell, The Legacy Project began in 2021. The inaugural event kicked off with a parade and tailgate party at Virginia Union University that brought out hundreds of people to celebrate.

This year’s event on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27 highlights several activities during November and December. For Ms. Randolph, a graduate of the Maggie Walker Class of 1977, the Legacy Project represents the chance for Maggie Walker and Armstrong alumni to take the benefits of the Classic beyond what was available in its original form.

“We didn’t want it (to be), ‘Oh, we just get together and we have a parade and a tailgate’,” Ms. Randolph says.

As president, Ms. Randolph’s role largely is focused on managing various elements of the project and to “make sure all the pieces of the pie come together.” Those pieces now include, in addition to a parade and tailgate party, the Legacy Project’s new partnerships and its new status as a nonprofit, which allows the group to seek and receive donations.

With decades of managerial experience in her professional career and with The St. Paul’s Baptist Church as the directional leader of outreach, Ms. Randolph more easily can handle her responsibilities with the Legacy Project.

“It’s an easy space for me because I do it all the time,” Ms. Randolph says. “You help set the vision, and everybody works to make the vision a reality.”

The Armstrong-Walker Classic Legacy Parade route starts 10 a.m. at Martin Luther King Middle School, 100 Mosby St., and ends at noon at Armstrong High School. 2300 Cool Lane. The tailgate begins after the parade and is scheduled to end at 5 p.m.

With the parade now set to end at Armstrong High School in Richmond's East End, Ms. Randolph hopes that children who need positive role models and inspiration will draw from the examples established by the two high schools and their graduates.

“We are optimistic where, in that community, they can see that it’s a lot of positivity that comes out of when you take pride in what you do,” Ms. Randolph says. “We’re excited about that.”

Meet a leader in reviving the Armstrong-Walker experience and this week’s Personality, Greta J. Randolph:

Volunteer position: President, The Armstrong-Walker Football Classic Legacy Project.

Occupation: Directional leader of outreach, The Saint Paul’s Baptist Church.

Date and place of birth: Jan. 22 in Richmond.

Where I live now: Henrico County.

Education: Maggie L. Walker High School and a bachelor’s degree from Hampton University.

Family: One of five siblings, one adult child.

The Armstrong-Walker Football Classic Legacy Project is: The AWFCLP’s mission is to preserve, educate and advance the history of Richmond’s jewel of the past that meant so much to the Black community and enriched the city of Richmond. “The Classic” was a high school football game between Maggie Walker and Armstrong high schools that took place for 40 years (1938-1978). The AWF-CLP is working in partnership with the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia to do a month-long exhibition on the history of “The Classic.” There will be a parade, tailgate, and more on Saturday, Nov. 26, and an “Hour of Power” on Sunday, Nov. 27 to encourage people and show support for local high schools, youth programming, STEM programs and to provide scholarships.

When and why founded: It was founded in 2021 to help share the rich history of The Classic and the two schools involved.

Founder: Cary Mitchell.

Why did the original Classic end and when: The original classic ended in 1979 when all of the Richmond Public High Schools became complexes.

In what way does today’s Classic differ from the original: It is different because the game was originally played between Armstrong High School and Maggie L Walker High School. It is now played by youths in the Richmond Parks and Recreation program. The number of people attending The Classic some years reached up to 40,000.

Brief explanation of the two schools and their rivalry: Armstrong High School, founded in 1867 as the Richmond Normal and High School, eventually was incorporated into the Richmond school system in 1876. Maggie L. Walker High School opened in September 1938 and was the second high school in Richmond, in addition to Armstrong, that Black people could attend. It was originally to open as a vocational school. The rivalry was fierce competition on the field, but the comraderie, friendship, and respect off of the field was just as strong.

The importance for the success of this event is: People and businesses understand the importance of the history behind the schools and “The Classic,” and that they continue to support the project financially to help educate others.

Activities associated with today’s Classic: Exhibition at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia until Dec. 2. The exhibit is designed to enable students from Richmond Public Schools to view the exhibit and discuss the pride and history of “The Classic.” Other activities include a parade and tailgating activities on Nov. 26, and an “Hour of Power” Nov. 27.

A perfect day for me is: Being at the beach listening to the waves.

What I am continuing to learn about myself during the pandemic: Stay connected and remain hopeful.

Something about me that people may not know: I love the beach.

School spirit means: Pride and joy.

A quote that inspires me: Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

My friends describe me as: Detail-oriented.

At the top of my “to-do” list: Care for others.

Best late-night snack: Chocolate ice cream.

The best thing my parents ever taught me: Respect others. The person who influenced me the most: My mother.

Book that influenced me the most: Not one book, but one that did influence me is “The Power of Moments” by Chip and Dan Heath.

What I’m reading now: “The Light We Carry,” by Michelle Obama.

Next goal: Retire happy and at peace.