Andrew Heidelberg wondered what the commotion was about.
“Why are all of these guys walking past the shower, looking at me,” he asked a white friend one day after PE.
“Andy, I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you,” his buddy said.
“They’ve been told that black people come from monkeys, and they want to see if you’ve got a tail.”
Today, recounting this incredible story, the dark-skinned Heidelberg has to laugh. “This was real, man.”
He was one of a group of African-American teenagers known as the Norfolk 17, the first to attend formerly all-white high schools in Norfolk after a well-publicized standoff between the city and new federal desegregation laws in 1959.
Click here to read "A City Separated," in this month's Hampton Roads Magazine.