Kent Merritt headshot

Kent Merritt

Lane High School

Venable, that’s my first brush with discrimination because I think it was in the fourth grade, every Wednesday or Thursday or whatever, a bus used to come and take the kids out to Terrace Bowl, which now is a — university owns it.  It’s out on Ivy Road and whatnot, and they had duckpins out there, and the kids would go out and bowl after school.  And one day, my mother got together — I can’t remember how much money was required, but she got together whatever money and gave it to me so I could go.  But as I was trying to get on the bus to go out there, the bus driver closed the door in my face.  And of course, I’m in the fourth grade.  I don't know what’s going on, so I just waited, and then a white kid came, and he opened the door.  He got on, and I tried to get on.  He closed the door in my face again.  And then the kids on the bus would say, “Why can’t Kent go,” and this sort of thing, and then he opened the door, and I was about to step on it, and then he just shook his head.  And I knew that I couldn’t go.  So, I learned about discrimination in the fourth grade.  That was my first brush with that.  I will never forget it.  I know as far as some historical information in Charlottesville, people talk about the Terrace Bowl, but I will always remember it as the most racist thing that’s ever happened in my life.