Kent Merritt headshot

Kent Merritt

Lane High School

The conventional wisdom back then was that the facilities, the tools that you had to work with were better in a white school versus a Black school.  And that’s true.  That was true.  For a long — I didn’t know, for example, that our uniforms — after our season, our uniforms were given to Virginia State.  That’s what they use as their football uniforms.  I didn’t know that.  So the investment in the schools is uneven.  The goal or the expectation was that the investment should be equalized, but it never has been.  So from that standpoint I think that it hasn’t been successful.  I think that — and I don’t know what it’s going to take in order to even the playing fields because I think that, for example, here in Charlottesville we had Vinegar Hill, which is the Black downtown.  We went down there every weekend and got our hair cut, bought fish.  Even the church was there, had various businesses around town.  But when they razed Vinegar Hill it wiped away a certain amount of our culture.  So we don’t have a lot of businesses to look up to for Black kids around town or an identity that they can focus in on.  So that’s kind of why they kind of — some of them kind of meander around and/or they grow up here, go to college, and never come back.  And never contribute back into the community like we need.  So that’s a long answer to your question, but in thinking about this thing, I don’t know what could have been done better, but it should’ve been done better.