Albemarle schools unveil historic markers honoring 'Albemarle 26'

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Albemarle County Public Schools honored 26 African-American students that helped desegregate schools in 1963 with a ceremony to unveil three new historic markers to remember their work.

A plaque was installed at each of the schools the "Albemarle 26" were enrolled in, including Stone Robinson Elementary School, the former Greenwood School, and Albemarle High School.

Friday marked the 65th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education to make segregated schools unconstitutional.

However, it took nine years for Albemarle County to join the movement.

Twenty-six African-American students, including Vincent Kinney, enrolled in Albemarle County schools to help integrate schools.

Kinney became the first African-American student to graduate from Albemarle High School in 1964.

He said the new marker at AHS reminds him of the decision he made to help desegregate Albemarle County schools.

"The time had come," said Kinney. "There were leaders in the community who decided that the time was right and we as students really became instruments then for those who made the decision that the time was right."

Lorenzo Dickerson, web content and social media manager at Albemarle County Public Schools, said the ceremony was a special time for the community to reflect on the decisions made by the parents of the "Albemarle 26" to desegregate schools.

"It didn't stop in 1963," Dickerson said. "We didn't fully desegregate until 1967, so this process had to continue for a few years."

Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas said he was humbled to see the markers go up and honor the impact of these pioneers for future students.

"We have a lot of work to do to really have true equity in our schools for all of our students, diverse students of color, and students with special capacities," Haas said. "These 26 brave individuals started us on that path and it's our job to keep it moving forward."

With the new plaque, Kinney hopes people will always remember the sacrifices the "Albemarle 26" made to help the Albemarle County community.

"I hope that it's not taken for granted," he said. "I hope that it's appreciated by all that sacrifices were made."

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