Urban Exploring

Recently I explored Williamsburg’s historic Burton Heights School. Built in  the late 1930’s  as a school for blacks. The school remained segregated throughout its operation, even some 12 years after the landmark supreme court decision in Brown v. Board. I learned that like many black schools in the south in the era of Jim Crow, Bruton Heights was underfunded and always a second priority to white schools of the area. Despite this adversity, students at the school excelled and built a strong educational community in the face of inescapable prejudice. I would be interested to know the extent to which The  College was involved in the function of this school which is only several blocks away our campus. Though we often cite our school as having strong ties to Williamsburg’s educational system, I would not be surprised if a school that did not see its first black undergraduate until 1963 was particularly weakwilled in championing the cause of local black residents.

With that said, is pleasing to look around today and see people and ideas which would at one time have been discouraged or even forbidden from becoming a part in local collegiate life.


The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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