Byrd Leavell headshot

Byrd Leavell

Venable School, Lane High School

So, I guess we start off, we went to Saint Paul’s Church in town.  A lot of the mayors come from Saint Paul’s in Charlottesville.  And then, they made some decisions along the way that, with the school system closing, they said, “We’re just going to stick with the Venable, stick with the public school system,” so they were very much supportive of that.  Then, I got to high school, and they said, “Should we send them away to high school to a boarding school someplace?”  And then, my father, he felt they were as good an influence on me as any boarding school.  So, they said, “We’re just going to stick it out.”  And so, then, the public schools, I loved it, going to public schools.  I think it was just the process going through that.  I went to the elementary school, when you probably know, the Distinguished Dozen folks, the Blacks interviewed, and before they came, they just had a lot of charisma.  The guys there, we all wanted to be their best friends.  And so, for me, coming to the school system, I didn’t see the all the harsh, negative things that were going on in society.  Because you’re in the middle of it all, you didn’t really appreciate it until later.  And then, looking back on it, as you ask these questions, looking back, I realize, I experienced a lot of things that I was part of, but I probably didn’t have, certainly, not the same perspective as my Black classmates.  And they felt things, I’m sure, a lot differently than I did.  But to me, life was going on.  And so, that was my approach.