Kent Merritt headshot

Kent Merritt

Lane High School


Kent Merritt, born in December 1951, was a true quadruple threat: As a 9th grader he won the 100-yard dash during the Virginia State Track Meet—a VHSL annual event—which he repeated in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. People who followed in track knew him as “the fastest man in Virginia,” as well as a standout basketball player, class president, and captain of the football team and track team at Lane High School. He entered Lane in 1967—the year Burley closed and its African American students enrolled at either Lane or Albemarle County High School. He reflected on why the melding of Burley students into one of the previously all-white schools was so fraught: “Burley had its identity. They had their clubs. They had their social networks… And they had their leaders in those positions. Then they came over to Lane, and they had none of that. They were completely shut out of all of those organizations… And in addition to that, the administration had no clue how to deal with it. It didn’t appear that they thought it out at all.” Kent’s career took him into business, earning an MBA from the Darden School and later as an administrator at the University of Virginia.

Full Interview