Remembering Parker-Gray

Alumni Brooks is honored at 103rd anniversary.

Brig. Gen. Leo A. Brooks Sr. (ret) was the guest of honor at the 103rd anniversary of Parker-Gray High School held Sept. 9 at the Nannie J. Lee Center.

“An Evening With the General” was presented by the Alexandria African American Hall of Fame. Brooks, a member of the Parker-Gray class of 1950, spoke about his time at the segregated school as well as his storied career in the military.

Mayor Justin Wilson presented Brooks with a proclamation on behalf of the city with Cheryl Lewis Hawkins serving as emcee.

The annual Parker-Gray anniversary celebration acknowledged Brooks as one of the school’s most prominent alumni.

Brooks Sr. was born in Alexandria on Aug. 9, 1932. He graduated from Parker-Gray High School in 1950, when education in Virginia was segregated, and from Virginia State University four years later.

Brooks received his commission in the Army in 1954 as a Distinguished Graduate of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He served in Alaska, and two tours in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. During his military career, he earned a master’s degree in financial management from The George Washington University.

Brooks Sr.’s sons – Leo Brooks Jr. and Vincent Brooks – also rose to the ranks of generals in the U.S. Army, with Vincent retiring as a full general in 2019, and Leo Brooks Jr. as a brigadier general. Brooks Sr.’s nephew Mark Quander also achieved the rank of brigadier general. To date, the Brooks family is the only African American family to have a father and two sons rise to the rank of brigadier general or higher.

Brooks was married for 65 years to Naomi L. Brooks, a 1951 graduate of Parker-Gray and a longtime educator. The Naomi L. Brooks Elementary School was named in her honor in 2021 following her death in 2020.

The Alexandria African American Hall of Fame’s website features Brooks and other prominent graduates of Parker-Gray.