Frankie Allen headshot

Frankie Allen

Venable School, Lane High School, Albemarle High School


A storied basketball star at Lane High School, Franklin Allen was among the first Black children to desegregate Venable School in 1960. He remembers fondly his neighborhood and the role of sports: “You’d get up on a Saturday morning… and you could be gone just about all day, maybe come back home for lunch…then you’d go back out and play.” He didn’t want to leave Jefferson Elementary School to go to Venable, but his mother was very active in the NAACP and “they were handpicking certain Black kids to desegregate or integrate the schools.” Once at Venable, he was not able to play in citywide competitions because of his race. He remembers the challenges of being among a handful of Black students at Lane. Ultimately as the leading basketball scorer in the state, he came to see that “sports… bring people together… all of a sudden… we were all on the same team now.” After receiving a full scholarship to attend Roanoke College as the only Black student, he became a professional basketball coach. First he coached at Albemarle High School (after it had desegregated), and subsequently coached at Virginia Tech and Tennessee State University before returning to his alma mater, Roanoke College. He has been inducted into the Virginia Basketball Hall of Fame. 

Full Interview