ABOUT Heidelberg of the Norfolk 17
Andrew Heidelberg stood alone … anxious, defiant.
Once again, he had drifted into the center of the universe, the suspect of 11,000 white stares. Some were curious, others prayed for his very destruction.
The true story of Andrew Heidelberg, the first African American to play “white” high school football in the South. His childhood alone could make for a wild and beautiful novel. Add the NAACP recruitment of The Norfolk 17, the white backlash, and the eventual integration of public schools in 1959, where every day was laced with humiliation and threats. It was never easy … even when, with a hammer to the racist South, Andrew made and then starred for the Norview football team. His impact in a surrealistic world of the late fifties and early sixties now creates a powerful work of humanity, humor, absurdity, and survival.
Categories: History › Americas
2023, 230 pages, paperback
“Superb … Gaines and Heidelberg dive deeply into a fierce, rich and soul-stirring chronicle of how a Black teen passed through a gauntlet of jeering whites to eventually become the first to integrate all-white high school football in the South … a relentlessly honest account filled with pain, triumph, inspiration and transformation.”
– Luressa Heidelberg, Andrew’s widow, author of Breaking Silence
“A time when so many saw race first, humanity second.”
– Brenda H. Andrews, Publisher/Owner, New Journal and Guide
“An African American pioneer!”
– Kenny Alexander, Mayor of Norfolk, Virginia
“Andrew was my brother as the seventeen of us faced challenging and often horrific days.”
– Patricia Turner, PhD, The Norfolk 17, retired educator
“I was there, I saw it … this book is on the mark!”
– Randy Wright, Norfolk City Council 1992-2010
“A true portrayal of unimaginable courage. I love this story.”
– Ken Whitley, retired educator, coach