January 15, 2014
Back in the 1950s, during a time of segregation, there were 115 black high schools in the state of Virginia. Jackson P. Burley High, now Burley Middle in Charlottesville, was one of them.
They were all under the Virginia Interscholastic Association (VIA), which dealt with extracurricular activities, including athletics.
“It's a part of black history for the state of Virginia,” says Jimmy Hollins, Chairman of the Burley Varsity Club.
When desegregation occurred in the late 1960s, schools in the VIA had to merge with the Virginia High School League, a predominantly white organization.
During that transition, many of the great athletes and students of that time were forgotten.
“A lot of records were thrown away so if we could create a VIA Hall of Fame and Museum, we would know the records and they should go into that,” says Hollins.
Hollins attended Burley back when it was a high school for African American students. He is now a part of putting together a hall of fame for the Commonwealth.
“At the time that I played we only lost one game in four years,” explained William Redd.
Redd played football for Burley High School and was part of the team that was undefeated in 1956. He says that season wasn’t fully recognized until Burley added their own hall of fame in 2009.
“That was quite an impressive thing and the thing about it was, it didn't cause anyone to be elated over it because nobody paid any attention to it,” says Redd.
Many are hoping to change that with the help of the hall of fame. It would include teams like the Burley Bears, as well as famous athletes like professional tennis player Arthur Ashe and NBA star Bobby Dandridge. All of the athletes will be from Virginia.
The VIA Hall of Fame would be housed on the Virginia State University campus.
For more information on how you can help donate please call Jimmy Hollins at (434) 825-6617.