Garwin DeBerry headshot

Garwin DeBerry

Lane High School, Burley High School, and Charlottesville High School

When I first decided — of course, I wanted to play football. I went to try out for the team.  And Tommy [Theodose] was the coach. And he said, I’m sorry, son, we can’t allow you to play. And I go, like, why can’t I play? He goes, well, you’re a Black kid. And we’re afraid that we’re going to have problems with the other schools if we allow you — Charlottesville was way ahead of its time as far as integration is concerned. And it was, we can’t allow you to play. We’re going to have problems with the other schools.

Meantime, the uncle from New Jersey and aunt from New Jersey were here in that summer before I started. And he goes, like, we’re going to go to see the superintendent, who was Ellis at the time. So we found his home address, went, didn’t call, knocked on the door, explained who we were, and he offered us in. We went in. And then, he said, basically, the same thing, we’re not ready. We’re okay with Black kids being in the school, but we can’t allow them to do extracurricular activities, including sports, right now because we have to travel. We have other schools we were competing with. They will not play us if we allow you guys to play. So as of now, we’re not allowing you to play. So I go, that doesn’t seem like it’s right.