Frankie Allen headshot

Frankie Allen

Venable School, Lane High School, Albemarle High School

I went to Venable in sixth grade because my mother thought this was the thing to do.  They were handpicking certain Black kids to desegregate or integrate the schools.  I didn’t realize it until I started jogging my memory; when I was in the fifth grade, they had closed the schools in Charlottesville, but they didn’t close the Black schools,  so we just went to school in the fifth grade.  

Phyllis Leffler: So, you weren’t aware that the white schools were closed.  

Frankie Allen: I really wasn’t until you jog your memory.  So, now we were in the sixth grade, and I can remember the summer when they were trying to tell me that you needed to do this, and I just about had my dad convinced, man, “I don't know if he’s ready.”  But my mom was insistent, and I really think that they convinced my dad that this was like being Jackie Robinson.  And I don't know, but anyway, I remember the sixth grade, and we didn’t live that far from Venable, like I said.  But anyway, that morning, I think it was like the fall of 1960, and she walked with me, and there was newspaper or camera people or whatever, I guess The Daily Progress, and there was just so much going on.  And to be very honest, all those fun times, all those things I was telling you about at Jefferson and all my friends, that’s probably the most nervous.  She was holding my hand, said, “You’re going to be okay,” but even then, there was things you would see on television, other places, and you don’t —

Phyllis Leffler: Birmingham.  

Frankie Allen: When you’re in the sixth grade, you’re not talking about, “Oh, this is going to be a part of history,” but maybe if you look back on it, I’m sure it was.