McArthur Myers, Preserving Alexandria’s African American History

McArthur Myers lives in Alexandria and continues to advocate for the historical representation of African Americans in the city. Read about his story here.

McArthur Myers, Living Legend of Alexandria (Photo: Steven Halperson/Tisara Photography)

By Dominique Clayton

Alexandria, VA – What is right? Actively serving your community in any capacity you see fit. Here you will find McArthur Myers doing just that. He is engaged in many community efforts to revitalize and restore the rich African American history of Alexandria.

Since McArthur’s early years, serving others has been a passion. He says, “You got to step up and step in,” as a call to action for all. His diligent community service extends from social justice and advocacy to preserving the history of African Americans in Alexandria. This is why McArthur Myers is a Living Legend.

Born and raised during segregation, Myers faced many challenges as he was the “first” at critical times of his life. During the formative years, he strived to be around like-hearted individuals. He wanted to pursue the desires of his heart with his passion for helping others in the right way.

Myers attended Charles Houston Elementary School until fifth grade. His sister Lucille and he were among the first African Americans to attend Prince Street Elementary School. He integrated the Alexandria Boys Club and the Club’s Boy Scout Troop. Upon graduating from T.C. Williams High School, Myers began studying at American University, where he majored in Administration of Justice. Myers worked for over 40 years with the District of Columbia Government Department of Mental Health.

McArthur was introduced to advocacy and politics by his mother, Carrie Myers. He shadowed her moves as she served as a “Block Captain” during the Civil Rights era. His second “mom enhanced his strength to serve,” he says. She was the late Vola Lawson, former Alexandria City Manager and a Living Legend in her own right. Myers was mentored by Vola and her family and attended many Human Rights struggles in the community. “She helped me to become the man I am,” he says.

In 2012, Myers became a Freemason with Universal Lodge #1, the oldest Prince Hall Lodge in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He petitioned the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to acknowledge the historical group. In March 2018, the Universal Lodge #1 received its recognition with a new historical marker.

Myers served as the 174th Worshipful Master. He currently serves as the Grand Historian for the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia. In September 2016, Myers became the first African American member of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association. He recalled a time when African Americans were not welcome on the grounds of the Memorial. It was a significant moment to share his story there in 2016. In 2018, he arranged the first Prince Hall meeting at the Memorial. He currently serves on the subcommittee for the recognition of the 100-year Corner Stone rededication.

Myers is a dedicated advocate for historical landmarks identifying the significant impacts that Alexandria’s African Americans have made in the community. He worked to have eight historical markers placed throughout the city. Roberts Memorial United Methodist Church, Beulah Baptist Church, Third Baptist Church, and the Universal Lodge #1 are among those historic buildings.

Myers was part of the partnership to incorporate the Freedom House Museum into the Alexandria Museum System. He is now working on the Alexandria African American Heritage Trail Project to recognize the contributions of African Americans to Alexandria’s history. The African American Heritage Trail Committee is mapping a trail that will run along the Waterfront beginning at King Street and going north through Fishtown, the “Berg,” Canal, and the “Hump” communities. It will continue south of King Street along the Waterfront toward Jones Point.

In 2019, Myers was honored by the Alexandria Archeological Commission with the Ben Brenman Archeology in Alexandria Award. Myers was presented with the Outstanding Community History award to recognize his dedication to preserving and interpreting Alexandria’s African American heritage.

A proclamation by the City Council praised Myers, noting that by working through organizations including the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission, the Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage, and the African American Heritage Trails Committee, Myers has interpreted Alexandria’s history at the Universal Lodge #1, Third Baptist Church, and the Historic Waterfront.

A devoted member of his community, Myers has also mentored 15 young men for over 14 years. A recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, McArthur has worked with numerous organizations, including the Alexandria Society for the Preservation of Black History, the Alexandria Black History Museum board, the Alexandria Historic Resource Commission, and the Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Remembrance Project.

McArthur Myers lives in Alexandria and continues to advocate for the historical representation of African Americans in the city. McArthur’s motto is “One city, many stories.” He says, “Alexandria offers an opportunity to be the best and to enhance the quality of life for all, young and old.” He also says, “Stand on the shoulders of others,” while he serves his community.

McArthur Myers hopes to be remembered as an author of the stories that impacted African American History and social justice in Alexandria.

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