Byrd Leavell headshot

Byrd Leavell

Venable School, Lane High School


Born in May 1951, Byrd Leavell experienced many aspects of the desegregation struggle in Charlottesville. He attended “basement” schools in the second grade before returning to Venable. He was eighth-grade manager of the Lane High School football team and later served as captain. Leavell also competed on the track team. He assumed adult responsibilities as a Lane High School class president for multiple years. He speaks of challenges unique to the class president and the team captain positions. Leavell does not think of himself as an activist, rather describing himself as “a participant, and trying to lead in the right direction.” He pointed out why sophomore students acclimated more quickly than more senior students to the new social order after Burley closed in 1967. And he confessed that although he was “captain of the football team, I never went into the men’s bathroom the entire time of high school. I didn’t want to go in there. I was scared of what I’d run into.” He put in proper context a story that there had been actual violence after the end of a game at Douglas Freeman High School in Richmond. Leavell graduated from Lane High School in 1969 as an 18-year-old. He attended UVA for both college and medical school, eventually establishing his medical practice in Charlottesville.