Donald Byers

Donald Byers

Jackson P. Burley High School

George Gilliam: You were one of the movers and shakers, one of the founders I think of the Burley Varsity Club.

Donald Byers: Yes.

George Gilliam: And that was formed in?

Donald Byers: Oh, I can’t remember exactly.

George Gilliam: I think 2007.

Donald Byers: That sound about right.

George Gilliam: Right?

Donald Byers: Mm-hmm.

George Gilliam: What was the varsity club intended to do?

Donald Byers: Well, we decided that to us, Burley, Jackson P. Burley, our alma mater, was something special to us as a Black student.  At that particular time, they had made Burley a middle school, but we had decided that we were going to do something that everybody would always remember Burley, Jackson P. Burley High School.  We were going to keep that legacy alive, and we tried to figure out ways that we could do that.  So we formed -- it started out with I think four of us, and we started out with the Burley Varsity Club, and we have been working diligently ever since.

George Gilliam: What are some of the things you-all had done?

Donald Byers: Well, first thing we did was we’ve noticed that there was no -- of all the trophies and things that Burley had, there was none in school, they were not in the schools.  So our first project was to put [00:36:00] trophy cases in Burley, find our trophies, and what we couldn’t find, we had to have them remade, and put that -- the trophy case in the schools, get those trophies back in there.  And we also have some other things that students donated like sweaters and stuff like that, we put all of that -- got all of that.  That was our first thing.  And then I think the next thing, we started naming hallways after some of our teachers, then we started naming the fields after -- and the gymnasiums after our teachers.  I guess our biggest project, at that particular time, was we decided that we were going to do a memorial, a wall monument, which we will give every student who went to Burley an opportunity to put their name, have their name inscribed on that monument wall.  And then the Burley Varsity Club, we said not only were we going to have the -- memorialize the student, but we were going to make sure that every administrator that was in that school and went on down to the cafeteria workers, the janitor.  The club itself made sure that their names were put in there.  The students had the obligation of getting -- of paying for their names to be on that wall.  But the Burley Varsity Club made sure if an administrator wasn’t living or they didn’t have -- or a family member didn’t put their name in, that we were going to make sure that their names were in.  That project cost us 90 -- about $90,000, but we got it done.