Peyton HumphreyVenable Elementary School, Johnson Elementary School, Lane High School
Peyton Humphrey was born in the Fry’s Spring section of Charlottesville in 1942. He attended Venable and Johnson elementary schools before entering Lane High School. He remembers that there was very little interaction between Blacks and Whites in those years. Yet, the family’s Black paper boy, Willie Shackleford, would periodically give them tickets to Burley games, which Humphrey attended with his dad. His preferred sport was baseball, and he participated through Charlottesville’s Little League team in 1951. That year, his team played Norton, Virginia—a town of 4,300 residents in far southwest Virginia. Charlottesville had the home field advantage. The Norton team was integrated; the Charlottesville team was not. The Charlottesville team told Norton that Norton would have to host the game. Norton agreed. The state championship game was played. Norton won 12–3 and moved up to the regional competition. Humphrey recalls learning about this only years later. He admits that he never really thought about issues of race despite the fact that he “was in town growing up in Charlottesville—back of the bus was there. Separate entrance to the movie theater. Black and White water fountains in some of the stores…. It was the way it was….” Community resistance to desegregation was strong and was part of the environment that impacted desegregation of schools.
“And that was like culture shock, you know?”
“We had other classes in different buildings, but you had five hours of class.”
“I mean you just didn’t associate with them.”
“They can’t come to Charlottesville to play because it’s against the law.”
“I can’t speak to whether them going to Rock Hill was under their own volition or strong urging from parents.”
“It really disrupted and destroyed school life for a semester.”