Rod Gentry, born in Charlottesville in May 1949, began first grade at Venable School in 1954. In 1958, when schools closed, he attended two different basement schools. He remembers growing up “sheltered” from discussions of race. He graduated high school in 1967 after attending 8th through 12th grades at Lane High School. Gentry discusses the segregated environment of Charlottesville and separations on buses, in department stores, at water fountains. As for the high school environment, he says: “Lane was an island unto itself and Burley to itself and Albemarle to itself.” He attended Virginia Tech but wasn’t ready to be a committed student. Facing the draft, he enlisted in the Air Force. His coming-of-age journey that landed him a plum appointment assisting in the creation of the Department of Defense Race Relations Institute Cocoa Beach, Florida, ran parallel to his personal awareness of the civil rights crisis brewing in the 1970s.