Armstrong/Walker Classic parade brings Richmond football history to life

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The first Armstrong/Walker Classic Parade kicked off Saturday morning in a festive tribute to a long-time Richmond football tradition.

The event commemorates the Armstrong/Walker Classic, a football game between rival high schools Armstrong and Maggie L. Walker that took place for forty years from 1939 to 1978.

Rev. Daniel Goodall is a professor at Virginia State University and graduate of Maggie L. Walker’s class of 1976. He has fond memories of the game from his time at the school.

“I had the opportunity to play in three classics at City Stadium for Maggie L. Walker,” he said. “Close to 40,000 people would come to the Classic on any given Thanksgiving.”

He said during its heyday, the game was a way for the city’s Black community to celebrate its vibrant culture and successes.

“This was an opportunity to show that they not only had intellectual knowledge, but they also had wealth. People wore minks to the games,” he said.

James Briggs graduated from Armstrong in 1972, playing on the offensive line his senior year, and he recalled fond memories of the game.

“We played in our senior year in the Armstrong-Maggie Walker Classic. Maggie Walker had us as far as total wins, so it was very important for us to try to change that in the history,” he said. “And it was our year when we were able to be victorious.”

Willie Whitlock graduated the same year and played on the defensive line. He said the game came alongside a pivotal moment in the city’s history as well.

“Seventy-two, that was probably one year into I would say busing that we had to do. It was, you could say, the culminating of where the community and the city really started to integrate more,” he said.

“I mean it really was a unifying event. You had your sides, but afterwards everybody got together, congratulated the winning team,” said Ritchie Briggs, James’ younger brother.

Goodall added that he wanted the parade to reach younger generations, and drive interest in the city’s rich history, “We hope this will spark their curiosity to say, ‘What were you guys doing back in 1970, 80?'”

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