1951 The school opened in Charlottesville, Virginia


1956 Burley football team went undefeated and unscored upon


Burley High School closed in 1967


40 years later, The Burley Varsity Club was formed

History of Burley High School

Jackson P. Burley Middle School on Charlotteville’s Rose Hill Drive is named after an esteemed local African-American

educator and community leader. The school opened in 1951, serving both the City of Charlottesville and neighboring

Albemarle County as the sole African-American high school during segregation. For 16 years, Burley High School served as

a center and focal point of African-American culture and community in the greater Charlottesville area.

According to Burley High School alumnus Sherman White (‘60), “When it came to Burley, you had the black communities

coming from Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Green County, Nelson county, all over. … You had everyone coming

together. The magic of that was there was such a bond, a fraternity, a sorority – that it didn’t matter where you were

from, all you had to do was say ‘Burley,’ and nothing else mattered.” Burley High School closed in 1967 – the year that

school integration was finally complete in our community – and Albemarle County Public Schools converted it into a junior

high school.

Exactly forty years later, a group of former Burley High School athletes established The Burley Varsity Club (BVC), a 501c3

nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the history and pride of Burley High School. Led by Jimmy Hollins (’65), the

BVC achieved Burley School’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register;

rescued and displayed long-forgotten state championship athletic trophies; educated current Burley students on their

school’s history; and led a years-long fundraising effort to restore the school’s dilapidated athletic field. The original

Burley High School athletic field, located between the school building and Washington Park, was once home to legions of

championship athletes – including the undefeated and never-scored-upon 1956 Burley football team. Today, the field is

the only lighted baseball diamond in the city and county available for public use, and many local leagues – youth, schools,

UVA clubs, and adult men – practice and play on Burley field.

To the bitter disappointment of Burley High School alumni, the athletic field has fallen into a state of significant disrepair.

The field today is prone to extensive flooding and swampiness; the stands are dangerously broken, with spikes of metal

sticking out of crumbling concrete and broken planks where cheering crowds once gathered; the outfield and space

behind the stands are overgrown with kudzu and massive weeds; the bathrooms are shuttered; the scoreboard no longer

functions; and the dugouts are outmoded.

Color Line of Scrimmage

Color Line of Scrimmage (a documentary by Lorenzo Dickerson) tells the story of the all African-American 1956 Burley High School undefeated and unscored upon championship football team. Not only did they win, but they did so while living and playing during a time that was behind color lines. Explore what it takes to win, and learn more about segregated sports in 1950s Charlottesville, Virginia.




Project Goals 

Restore and modernize the existing Burley Middle School baseball field and facility.

  • Honor the rich history of Burley High School and its student athletes

  • Provide to the Rose Hill neighborhood of Charlottesville an enhanced community resource

  • Bring together the Albemarle County, Charlottesville City and UVA communities in a project addressing historic and enduring issues of racial injustice and equity


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