About This Project

The story of Virginia’s Massive Resistance to Brown v. Board has been told many times. Most of those treatments focus on the political, legal, and educational aspects of desegregation. Often lost in these histories are the personal experiences of those whose lives were most immediately affected—the young people who were the first to cross previously enforced boundaries and charted new social norms.

This project began with a focus on athletics to explore the complexities and nuances of desegregation—where Black and White youth directly cooperated and competed for the time. Athletics is an important part of American culture that often crosses social boundaries and can unite communities through entertainment and the celebration of achievement. Sports, many contend, helped integrate America. Others see the culture of sport as perpetuating stereotypes which continue to limit opportunities for African Americans. In both White and Black communities, in both Charlottesville and Albemarle County, athletics was a powerful catalyst for community spirit. What were the effects of desegregating these communities of pride?

We began this project to explore whether interracial cooperation on athletic teams had a positive effect on the desegregation process. We quickly learned that the story must be broader. Some of the athletes we have interviewed said that color was not an issue in their sport— “it was all about winning.” Yet, they also say there were limits to their camaraderie; the team only existed on the court or field. In search of those limits, we expanded our interviews beyond athletes. While we use athletics as an entry point, these oral histories venture beyond the field and court to reveal how school desegregation made and broke communities beyond the school grounds. These individual stories help us to understand the ways that full integration has yet to be achieved. Collectively, they reveal the dynamic facets of school desegregation and the ramifications beyond the classrooms. Through these individual personal stories, we can feel what it was like to experience desegregation on a daily basis.

On this website, you will find a diverse range of materials that provide an in-depth exploration of the impact of desegregation. Find out how Charlottesville and Albemarle County were impacted by Virginia’s Massive Resistance to Brown v. Board. Learn about the perspectives of students and their communities. See how deconstructing some social barriers reinforced others, how forging new relationships also destroyed supportive networks, and how those previously forced to be separate learned to play together when “no playbook” existed.

Learning Resources

  • Download our inquiry-based lesson plan (PDF) for 7th to 11th grade, featuring links to external sources, audio clips, videos, articles, and primary source documents, many of which are included on this website.


The No Playbook website has been made possible in part with grants received from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Sustaining Humanities through the American Rescue Plan in partnership with the American Historical AssociationVirginia Humanities, Charlottesville Area Community Foundation Enriching Community Fund, and the Perry Foundation. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the above grant funders.

People Behind the Project

Phyllis Leffler is professor emerita from The University of Virginia, where she taught courses in public history.  She has broad experience in conducting oral histories focused both on national and local issues.  She has published numerous essays and books related to her research interests.  For more info, see https://history.virginia.edu/people/profile/pkl6h

George Gilliam earned both his LLD and Ph.D. at The University of Virginia.  He taught courses in southern history and Virginia history for 23 years.  He also produced wrote, and narrated the five-part series, "The Ground Beneath Our Feet: Virginia's History Following the Civil War," in cooperation with WCVE-TV (Central Virginia's PBS member station).  From 2003-2011, George hosted the Miller Center Forum.  For more detailed information, see https://history.virginia.edu/people/profile/ghg4u.

Lorenzo Dickerson is an Albemarle County, Virginia native where his family has lived for generations. An Emmy and Telly Award winning filmmaker, Lorenzo focuses his storytelling on African American history and culture in Virginia, and his films have played in numerous film festivals, are used as a teaching tool in K-12 and university classrooms across the county, and broadcast nationally on PBS. For more info, visit Lorenzo's production company at: http://www.maupintown.com

C. Thomas Chapman, Executive Director at Albemarle Charlottesville Historic Society, was born and raised in Virginia. He received his BA from James Madison University and his MA from The College of William and Mary. Tom has had many titles during his career: archaeologist, historian, researcher, planner, general manager, and consultant, to name a few. It is not so much that he chose history as a profession, but instead, the lure of historical discovery led him on his professional journey and to where he is now.

Sterling Howell, Programs Manager at Albemarle Charlottesville Historic Society, hails from the swamps and tobacco fields of eastern North Carolina where his family roots go back almost 400 years. He earned a BA in sociology from North Carolina State University and a MA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where his research focused on Law & Society studies and social theory. After graduate school, Sterling spent over seven years with the Education Department of James Madison’s Montpelier creating interpretive programs, contributing to and striving to spread understanding of the U. S. Constitution and America’s legacy of slavery. Sterling joined ACHS as the new Volunteer and Programs Coordinator in August 2020. 

Annie Valentine is a University of Virginia alumna. Her many talents and broad interests include history, which has led her to support the Albemarle Historic Society in this project. 

Seline DeGroot is a researcher with the Albemarle Charlottesville Historic Society’s project “No Playbook”. She earned her BA from the University of Zurich and her MA from the University of Chicago. Her research interests revolve around public history, history of medicine, and human rights. 

Journey Group is an independent design company of cross-disciplinary studios based in Charlottesville, Virginia. We've served clients and causes since 1992.

Kelly Cogan, UVA '22 - Summer 2021 IPP Intern
Maren Sautter, UVA '23 - Summer 2022 IPH Intern
Mohneet Kaur, UVA '23 - Summer 2022 IPP Intern
Rebecca West, GMU '21, NVCC '23 - Spring 2023 Public History Intern
Eleanor Grabcheski, UVA '24 - Summer 2023 IPH Intern