Donald Byers

Donald Byers

Jackson P. Burley High School


Donald Byers, born in 1941, served as the first Black store manager of a major retail chain in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, and the first Black investigator in the County Sheriff’s department. He credits Jackson P. Burley High School’s academics and athletics—where he was a baseball standout and considered one of the best baseball players in the region—for many of his successes. But there is nonetheless a story that illustrates what many Black men and woman confront: Fresh out of Burley, Byers got his first job in a major food store at the Barracks Road Shopping Center. His first position was as a clerk in the frozen food department. He advanced steadily, turning one store that had lost money for six years into a money-maker. Managers told him that he would be selected to manage a brand-new store then under construction. But when a White man applied for that same position, Byers was shunted into a much smaller, rural position. He refused the transfer offer and was later recruited to become a member of the Albemarle County Sheriff’s Office.

Full Interview