Headed down to Orange, VA today for the 50th anniversary of the integration of Woodberry Forest School. It’s a small corner of history, but we made it! The question is, what was a poor boy from Greensboro thinking when he made that trip 50 years ago, his belongings and favorite books in a steel gray trunk?
We ran up and down this road many times during my middle distance days. But was I really the first African-American to get a varsity letter in cross-country? Damn, I guess i was.
Final thoughts on my return to Woodberry. Big thrill to see old classmates after so many years. All prospering. Amazed at how folks have become 60-something year old versions of their 14 year old selves. If you do it right, the future is always better than the present.
I remember my fellow pioneers at EHS.The schools were rivals, but the handful of black students knew we had to be allies with each other. Same with VES in Lynchburg. Small world!
I hope to bring my grand nephew to WFS as a new boy in 2023. First male born to our nuclear family since 1955. Still gotta convince his mother.
In retrospect, the Woodberry experience put my life on a unique trajectory. But most importantly, during a period of extreme adversity (which we all must experience unless we are content to be mere spectators in life), Woodberry’s “hidden lessons” gave me both the strength to endure and the courage to fight the bastards back. I feel nothing but gratitude to the institution and all the people I met and came to know there.
Still coming down from last week’s high of returning to #Woodberry Forest School for the 50th anniversary of integration. 4th Form (10th grade) was the year in my life when I became serious about poetry. Deadly serious, I might add. And yes, I still have some of the stuff I wrote that year. And yes, it was all crap. But cute crap. It’s all a process, right?
postscript. This is a yearbook class photo from 1972. It was an all-boy school but daughters of instructors were allowed to attend.