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Staunton native writes book on African-American athletes from Augusta County

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 8:14 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - About a year ago, writer and Staunton native Warner “Terry” Howard was asked to look into the history of African-American athletes that either played or grew up or passed through Augusta County.

“There was so much I didn’t know because a lot of that was lost or was never recorded. And then I started going through the archives and pulling up old articles and I’m like, ‘Wow.’ I had no idea because a lot of that was not documented or if it was, it was not documented in the same ways previously all-white schools were covered back then,” Howard explained.

What he came up with was a 150 page photo-narrative detailing the history of African-American athletes in the Shenandoah Valley.

His book, “Through the Years” focused heavily on the students who passed through Booker T. Washington High School during the 1920s-1966.

“I’ve spent 18 years of my life there [Staunton] all the way through high schools and it was always segregated schools. All the way through, I didn’t know what it was like to go to anything other than an all black school,” Howard explained.

Howard was a member of the final class at BTW in 1966.

“Even though we could not got to white schools or Staunton Military Academy or Augusta Military Academy, our parents worked at those schools. They cleaned, they cooked they mopped floors and all that. But yet, we could not attend those schools,” Howard said.

In 1966, schools in the area began to integrate.

The book mentions many local legends for example, Waynesboro’s Cory Alexander and Staunton’s Larry Simmons.

Larry Simmons is featured in "Through the Years".
Larry Simmons is featured in "Through the Years".(Credit WHSV & Warner Howard III)

Kenneth Venable is the chairman of the board for Staunton City Schools. He and Howard attended high school around the same time and authored the introduction for the book.

“A book like that is not in the school system. They always talk about athletics and sports but it’s always nice to go back to the beginning and bring people up to date. I think it is very educational and very timely in the era we live today,” Venable said.

Venable and Howard are trying to make, “Through the Years” available to school systems across the Shenandoah Valley.

Copyright 2020 WHSV. All rights reserved.

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