Rod Gentry headshot

Rod Gentry

Venable School, Lane High School

The things that I saw, that I remember asking questions about were growing up in Charlottesville and riding the bus going downtown.  The white line in the back of the bus and all of the Black people riding the bus, sitting in the back of the bus.  Because I can remember getting up to offer a — the bus was full, and there was an older Black woman standing.  You know, making her way down from the front of the bus to the back of the bus and I got up and offered her my seat.  And I was about 10 years old or so, couldn’t have been much older than that, because that’s what I had been taught to do.  And she, you know, kindly thanked me but continued on to the back of the bus.  And I remember I thought that was odd.  And then it dawned on me, it was like I’d been riding the bus and never noticing.  Suddenly I realized that all these people are sitting in the back of the bus and there’s none of them sitting where we’re sitting.  And then you know, you would go in Leggett downtown and there was a white water fountain and a colored water fountain.  There was a restroom for colored only painted on the wall.  And literally years later it was painted over and you could still see it through the white paint.  You remember when Leggett was downtown?  And then Woolworth, the lunch counter.  There was a place where Black people eating lunch sat and white people sat in the best seats like at the counter.  And that was never challenged, it just unfolded that way day after day after day after day.  And I don’t remember Timberlake’s being that way.  You know, used to go into Timberlake’s to eat lunch with my mother and I actually don’t remember ever seeing that occur there.