While classes went on inside Burley Middle School Friday, outside the city of Charlottesville paid tribute to the school's role in a turning point of American history.
It's called Burley Middle School now, but decades ago, it was the city's only black high school. From 1951 to 1967 Burley Middle School was Jackson P. Burley High School. Burley was a segregated school, the only high school for African Americans in the area.
Friday Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris and members of city council - as well as former teachers, coaches and students - witnessed the unveiling of three historical markers.
The Burley Varsity Club presented two free standing markers honoring football and basketball team coaches Walter "Rock" Greene and Albert "AP" Moore.
Burley Varsity Club President Jimmy Hollins helped rally some of the school's former athletes to push the city to mark the former Burley High School as an historical site. "Today's ceremony is about giving respect back to our former coaches and what they meant to us as mentors." he stated.
Hollins says the coaches conveyed important life lessons during difficult times. "They were great to us. They taught us a lesson," he stated. "They didn't prepare us, like some of these kids, for the pro ranks, they prepared us for a life to take care of your family. It was a life lesson we learned."
He adds Burley is a unique piece of history, one of few segregated school building still being used and maintained today.
The celebration will continue Saturday with a parade that runs up Rose Hill Drive.
Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) will temporarily detour Route 9 service due to the parade. Route 9 will not travel on Rose Hill Drive between Preston Ave. and Rugby Ave. Instead, Route 9 will take Preston Ave. past Washington Park, turn right onto Rugby Ave. to travel eastbound, and return to its usual route at the intersection of Rugby Ave. and Rose Hill Dr., northbound. The detour will begin at 9:45 am and continue until 11:45 am. During this time, Route 9 will not service stops on Rose Hill Dr. at Dale Ave., Henry Ave., Madison Ave., Amherst St., and Westwood Road.
Jackson P. Burley High School is named in memory of Jackson Price Burley, a distinguished educator, church worker, and community leader. The school opened September 1951 with 26 teachers, a principal, assistant principal, secretary, two cafeteria workers, and six bus drivers serving 542 black students in grades eight through 12. The curriculum offered college and vocational courses for professional and trade careers.
Jackson P. Burley was a high school for only sixteen years, yet it changed the lives of all the students who attended. Notable programs included fine arts, science and math, athletic teams, art club, debate team, Future Farmers of America, and chorus. Burley students went onto colleges, opened businesses, and joined the world of work.
Jackson P. Burley High School is also significant for the role it played in the history of Charlottesville's schools during the time of integration. Prior to 1950, there were three high schools for black students in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, including Esmont High School, Jefferson High School and Albemarle Training School. With the opening of Burley High School, they were combined into a single high school that served all the black students in the area. Following the integration of all city and county schools, a process begun in 1959 when Lane High School was integrated under court order, Burley closed its doors as a black school in June 1967.
Inscription on Coaches Plaques:
Washington, DC native, Walter "Rock" Greene began his coaching career in 1957 as an assistant football and basketball coach under legendary Coach "Bob" Smith. Coach Greene became head coach to the Burley Bears basketball team in 1960. That year the team became Western District Runner-up, followed by the Western District Championship in 1961. In 1963, Coach Greene received an invitation from his alma mater, Phelps High School in Washington, DC to become head coach, thus ending his career at Burley. In 1988, Coach Greene was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at Delaware State University and in 2000; he was inducted into the Washington, DC Sports Hall of Fame. Coach Albert "AP" Moore, a Kansas native, was summoned to Burley by his long time coaching¬ mate Coach Clarence Jones, from their days at Campbell County High School. Coach Moore arrived at Jackson P. Burley High School for the 1963 football season.
Coach Albert "AP" Moore assumed the head basketball coach role and became assistant coach for football. During his first season, Moore led the Bears to the regular season Western District Championship. That same year they went on to become the district tournament runner up as well as state tournament runner-up, as well as the VIA state tournament runner-up. Under Coach Moore's leadership, ‘baseball' team won the 1965 Western District Championship. In 1967, burley's final year of basketball, Coach Albert "AP" Moore was named Western District Coach of the Year.
Click here for more history on Jackson P. Burley High School from the Virginia African American Heritage Program.