Aware of the problem, several previous administrators tried to alter the admissions system, but none of their efforts yielded concrete results. For many — although not for the handful of Black and Latino students and graduates — the issue faded into the background until this summer, when protests over the murder of George Floyd began to spread nationally. Around the same time, the Fairfax school system released numbers showing that Thomas Jefferson’s Class of 2024 included less than 10 Black students.
Those twin events led to a huge spike in activism, as students and alumni formed action groups, began sharing their own experiences with racism at TJ and lobbied school leaders to take action. Again and again, they rehashed the statistics: In 2019-2020, mirroring years-long trends, the student body of roughly 1,800 was 70 percent Asian, 20 percent White, 2.6 percent Hispanic and less than 2 percent Black.