CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — Twelve individuals who have made outstanding contributions through high school, college and professional careers have been selected to the 2020 class of the Virginia Interscholastic Association Heritage Association (VIAHA) Hall of Fame.
The class features four athletes (Arthur Ashe, Jr. – Maggie L. Walker HS, Richmond; Donald Culpepper – Dunbar HS,
Lynchburg; Wheeler Hughes – Dunbar HS, Lynchburg; and Willie Lanier – Maggie L. Walker HS, Richmond;) three
coaches (Harold Deane, Sr. – Lucy Addison HS, Roanoke; Robert Johnson – Based in Lynchburg; and Carnis
Poindexter – Lucy Addison HS, Roanoke;) and five contributors (Afemo Omilami/Kenneth Lee – Peabody HS,
Petersburg; Carolyn Rudd — G. W. Carver HS, Chesterfield County; Melvin Stith, Central HS, Sussex County; Andrew
“Jack” White – Beverly Allen HS, West Point; and Jonathan Williams, Peabody/Petersburg HS, Petersburg).
Members of the Class of 2020 will bring total membership to 74. The fifth annual Hall of Fame Banquet will be
held at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 26, 2020 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Charlottesville, VA. The banquet
ticket order form can be found at viaheritage.com.
The Hall is dedicated to recognizing and preserving the rich heritage and legacy of African American students and
adults who participated in the Virginia Interscholastic Association (VIA) from 1954-70 and its predecessor
organization, the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic League (VIAL). Therefore, promoting greater appreciation for and
understanding of the contributions of African Americans to the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia is the
primary objective of the VIAHA.
Prior to public school desegregation, one of the most influential organizations in Virginia was the VIA, which served
young African American students who attended segregated high schools. The impact this association had on
shaping the lives of these students went far beyond governing athletic events. The VIA brought together students,
parents and mentors to develop a strong foundation of character and ethical responsibility in the students. The
notable careers of many VIA graduates are testaments to the successful efforts of their teachers, principals and
Athletes and coaches considered for nomination are those who excelled on VIA and VIAL athletic teams.
Contributors are professionals who excelled in VIA and VIAL non-athletic activities such as school administration,
media, officiating, medical services and other professions.
The VIAL/VIA’s original home was at Virginia State College (now Virginia State University). After merging with the
Virginia High School League (VHSL), all VIA records are now stored at Virginia State University.
The deadline for submitting nominations for the Hall of Fame Class of 2021 is September 30, 2020.
VIA Heritage Association (VIAHA) Hall of Fame
Arthur Ashe, Jr.
Maggie L. Walker High, Richmond (Honorary)
Arthur Ashe, Jr. began playing tennis in the segregated public parks in his hometown of Richmond, VA. As he
improved, he was noticed by Dr. Robert W. Johnson of Lynchburg, VA who had coached Althea Gibson — the first
African American to win Wimbledon and the U. S. National (now the U. S. Open) Championships. Ashe continued
to improve and, in spite of the racial discrimination which barred him from local and regional tournaments, he won
national youth titles in 1960 and 1961. A successful collegiate career at UCLA boosted his recognition as one of the
world’s best amateur players. He was the first African American man to win the U. S. Open (1968), Australian
Open (1970) and Wimbledon (1975) Grand Slam Titles. His dignified behavior as a world class athlete was a sharp
contrast to the negative stereotypes he faced as a youth. He became an ambassador for equality and goodwill
around the world. The sports network ESPN annually presents the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to individuals who
“reflect the spirit of Arthur Ashe, possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the
willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.” He was elected to the Virginia Sports Hall of
Fame in 1979 and the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.
Dunbar High, Lynchburg (1966)
As a high school student, Donald Culpepper participated in football, track and basketball. As co-captains of
Dunbar’s 1966 basketball team, he and Wheeler Hughes together averaged more than 50 points per game in
winning the VIA’s Western District and Group I State Championships. In the VIA State Tournament at Hampton
Institute (now University), they defeated Langston High (Danville) 72-62 in the final. Culpepper was selected to the
VIA all Western District and all state basketball teams. The team then entered the National Negro High School
Tournament in Montgomery, Alabama. In Dunbar’s semi-final win over defending National Champion Lanier High
(Jackson, Mississippi), Culpepper scored 22 points including game winners at the foul line. In the National
Championship game, Dunbar lost to Coleman High (Greenville, Mississippi), but Culpepper was elected to the all-
tournament team. He continued his basketball career at Norfolk State College (now University) where he
averaged 15.4 points and 3 rebounds per game. After graduating from Wayne State University, he remained in the
Detroit, Michigan area and enjoyed a 39 year career with General Motors Cooperation. His community
involvement included service as a youth basketball coach and Chairman of the Southfield, Michigan Planning
Dunbar High, Lynchburg (1966)
Wheeler Hughes was a well-rounded student who was elected Vice President of the Student Council and was one
of Virginia’s best high school basketball players. Dunbar’s 1966 team played with an aggressive style, averaged 92
points per game and won the VIA’s Western District and VIA Group I Basketball Championships. Dunbar then
entered the National Negro High School Tournament in Montgomery, Alabama. In the National tournament,
Hughes averaged 20 points per game as Dunbar defeated defending National Champion Lanier High (Jackson,
Mississippi) 79-78 in the semi-final and lost the National Championship game to Coleman High of Greenville,
Mississippi. In 1966 he was the Most Valuable Player in the VIA’s Western District and State Group I Basketball
tournaments. He made history that same year when he and Jerry Venable (B. T. Washington, Staunton) were the
first black basketball players selected to the Virginia Sportswriters and Sportscasters All-State Team. Hughes
played collegiate basketball at Kansas State University where they won the 1970 Big Eight Conference Regular
Season Championship. He returned to Lynchburg in February 2014 when his number 12 Dunbar jersey was retired.
Maggie L. Walker High, Richmond (1963)
Willie Lanier played high school football under Coach Fred “Cannonball” Cooper. Their 1962 Maggie L. Walker
team won the Virginia Interscholastic Association’s football championship. Lanier graduated from Morgan State
University in 1967 where he was a two time All-American linebacker and Most Valuable Player in the 1966
Tangerine Bowl. Picked in the second round of the American Football League’s 1967 draft, Lanier became a starter
his first year with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was the first African American to play middle linebacker in
professional football, the position described as the leader of the defense on the field. He retired in 1977 and is
recognized as one of football’s greatest linebackers. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986 and
the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2019 he was recognized as one of the NFL’s “100 Greatest Football
Players.” Mr. Lanier has had a long career in financial services and is now president and Chief Executive of the
Lanier Group, LLC. His longstanding commitment to his community and education is demonstrated by his selection
as NFL Man of the Year in 1972 and the establishment of an Endowed Lectureship in Business Ethics at Morgan
State University in 2015.
Harold Deane, Sr.
Lucy Addison High, Roanoke
Coach Harold Deane, Sr. graduated from Lucy Addison High in 1956. During his senior year his basketball team was
VIA Group I Basketball Tournament Runner-up. He attended Virginia State College (now University) where he
received the B. S. degree in Physical Education in 1961. At VSU he competed in basketball and track and field. He
was a three year starter in basketball and selected to the CIAA All-Tournament Team. He received professional
basketball offers from the Detroit Pistons, Washington Capitals (ABA) and the Harlem Clowns. As an ROTC
graduate, he served in the U. S. Army from 1961-1963. Coach Deane was Head Basketball coach at VSU 1969–
1979 and 1987-1994. His led his team to the Central Intercollegiate Association (CIAA) championship in 1988. He
was selected as conference Coach of the Year four times. From 1969 until his retirement in 2015, he was a
professor of Physical Education at VSU. For many years Coach Deane officiated high school basketball, baseball
and softball games and collegiate men and women basketball games in the CIAA, Big South and the Atlantic Coast
Conferences. Coach Deane’s contributions to education and his community have been recognized by the City of
Petersburg and Chesterfield County, VA. He was elected to the CIAA Hall of Fame in 2014.
Robert W. Johnson
Based in Lynchburg
Dr. Robert W. Johnson’s work to improve access to the sport of tennis greatly facilitated the development of tennis
as a competitive sport in the Virginia Interscholastic Association. He had been an All-American running back at
Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He graduated from the Meharry Medical School in Nashville, TN and
established a successful practice in Lynchburg. An accomplished player himself, he worked for more than 30 years
to integrate tennis tournaments at the local, state and national levels. To provide better training for young African
Americans, he founded the Junior Development Program of the American Tennis Association. He hosted tennis
camps at his Lynchburg, VA home and provided transportation to local and regional tournaments at his own
expense. His guidance was a strong influence on the development of Grand Slam Champions Althea Gibson and
Arthur Ashe, Jr. who broke down racial barriers in the 1950s and 1960s. In his honor, Virginia State University
hosts the Annual Dr. Robert W. Johnson Memorial Tennis Invitational. Dr. Johnson was elected to the Virginia
Sports Hall of Fame in 1972 and the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979. His home and adjoining tennis court
was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
Lucy Addison High, Roanoke
Carnis Poindexter grew up in northwest Roanoke and lived across from the Upper-Springwood Park tennis courts.
In 1956, the year before he graduated from Lucy Addison High, he met Dr. E.D. Downing who was associated with
the American Tennis Association’s (ATA) Junior Development Program founded by Dr. Robert W. Johnson. Dr.
Downing encouraged him to play and suggested that he might get a college scholarship for tennis. In 1957
Poindexter entered Arkansas A.M. & N College (now the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff) on a tennis scholarship.
In 1959 he won the ATA National Inter-Collegiate Singles Championship. In 1964, as an unseeded player, he won
the Roanoke City Championship. This was the first year the tournament was integrated. He won the tournament
three more times. He began his coaching career at Burley High in 1964 where he started their first tennis team. In
1965 he became tennis coach at Lucy Addison High where he won the 1967 VIA State Tennis Championship.
Before retiring in 1994, he also coached at Jefferson Senior and Patrick Henry High Schools. Twenty five of his
players were awarded athletic scholarships. In May 2018, Roanoke’s River’s Edge Sports Complex tennis facility
was officially named the Carnis Poindexter Tennis Courts.
Afemo Omilami (Kenneth Lee)
Peabody High, Petersburg (1969)
Among his activities at Peabody High, Mr. Omilami played football and was a member of the Drama Club, igniting
his interest in acting. In the community, he worked with the NAACP and helped with voter registration. He
attended Morehouse College as a political science major and later attended the New York University School of
Drama. Over his long career as a character actor he has appeared in films such as Trading Places (1983), Glory
(1989), The Firm (1993), Forest Gump (1994), Remember the Titans (2000), Ray (2004), The Blind Side (2009) and
Hidden Figures (2016). He had a recurring role in the television drama In the Heat of the Night (1989-1993). At the
2013 NAACP Image Awards he was nominated for Best Actor in a Television Movie for his role in the Lifetime
Network’s production of Steel Magnolias. Currently living in Atlanta, GA, Mr. Omilami is very involved with the
nonprofit organization Hosea Helps which was founded by his father-in-law, the late Reverend Hosea Williams.
This is one of Atlanta’s largest social services organizations for the poor and hungry. In 2018, at Morehouse
College’s Ray Charles Performing Arts Center, Mr. Omilami received the BlackManCan Legacy Award for
“embodying the definition of a positive black male image.”
G. W. Carver High, Chesterfield County (1968)
Valedictorian of her high school graduating class, Ms. Rudd received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from
Virginia State University and an Ed. D in higher education from William and Mary (1978). She is believed to be the
youngest African American to receive a doctorate from the university. Before starting her own business she served
in positions at Virginia State, Bowie State and Howard Universities. In 1988 she founded and became CEO of the
Washington D.C.-based multifaceted professional services and management consulting firm CRP, Incorporated.
CRP provides solutions in research, policy assessment and analysis, program management and support to federal
agencies, colleges, universities and other nonprofit organizations. CRP was recognized by the D. C. Chamber of
Commerce as its Small Business of the Year in 2017. Ms. Rudd has served as chair of the DC Commission for
Women and on the board of Family Matters of Greater Washington. She currently serves as a Trustee of the
University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and has been committed to providing employment opportunities to
UDC graduates. She helped establish and actively supports a nationally endowed scholarship in education at
Virginia Union University.
Central High, Sussex County (1964)
Melvin Stith grew up on a family farm in rural Jarratt, VA in Sussex County. He received a B.S. degree in Sociology
from Norfolk State University (NSU) in 1968. He served in the U.S. Army 1968 to 1972, achieving the rank of
Captain. He received an M.B.A. degree (1973) and a Ph.D. degree in Marketing (1978), both from Syracuse
University. He was an Assistant Professor of Business and an Associate Dean at the University of South Florida’s
College of Business (1977-1982). After serving as a visiting professor at the Florida A&M University School of
Business and Industry (1982-1985), he was an Associate Professor of Marketing at Florida State University (FSU),
later serving as the department’s chair. In 1991, Stith was named Dean of the Business School and Jim Moran
Professor of Business Administration. He left FSU in 2005 to become the Dean of the Martin J. Whitman School of
Management at Syracuse University. Dr. Stith has served on many boards, including AFLAC and the Keebler Food
Company. He was named a top influential black corporate executive by Savoy Magazine in 2016 and 2017. Dr.
Stith left retirement in 2017 to serve as interim President of NSU. In 2018 he returned to Central High School to
give the commencement address.
Andrew “Jack” White
Beverly Allen High, West Point (1949)
Reverend Andrew White was born in King and Queen County. He attended the Rappahannock Industrial Academy
for one year and graduated from Beverly Allen High School in 1949. In high school he played baseball and
basketball and joined the drama and debate clubs. He received his B. S. and M. Div. degrees from Virginia Union
University in 1953 and 1956, respectively. He taught history and social studies at A. T. Johnson High in
Westmoreland County for ten years. Throughout his distinguished career, he was a champion for education,
health care and community service. In 1969 Rev. White helped found the interracial Downtown (Petersburg, VA)
Churches United, which worked with other community groups to provide food, clothing, shelter, and job
assistance. He was the first African American President of the Southside Virginia Mental Health Association, and
was a member of the Petersburg Hospital Authority, which oversaw the construction of a new facility. He co-
chaired the successful capital campaign to construct a new public library in Petersburg (2014). Prior to his
retirement, he concurrently pastored Zion Baptist Church (Petersburg) and Union Branch Baptist Church (Prince
George County, VA) for more than 40 years. Still a resident of Petersburg, VA, Rev. White was recognized in 2019
among a group of Strong Men & Women in Virginia History for his contributions to the state.
Peabody/Petersburg High, Petersburg (1971)
Growing up in a musically talented family, Jonathan joined Peabody High’s marching band in the 8th grade.
Because of his enthusiasm and ability to learn different instruments, his music teacher, Mr. William McKinley (now
deceased), suggested that Jonathan learn to play the bassoon. Mr. McKinley also encouraged Jonathan to learn to
write and arrange music. He began his professional career with a Petersburg area band called Nat Turner’s
Rebellion. Subsequently, he was introduced to music producers at All Platinum Records. He was a part of the
label’s in house band that was later known as The Rimshots. They recorded with noted artists Chuck Jackson,
Brook Benton, Solomon Burke, Hank Ballard, Silvia Robinson and Etta James. Between 1973 and 1976 they
recorded more than 50 projects for Platinum-Chess Records. In the mid-1970’s the Rimshots had great success
with their cover recording of “7-6-5-4-3-2-1 (Blow Your Whistle),” and “Super Disco,” which reached number seven
on the disco singles charts. Today Jonathan says his music career is still a work in progress. In 2017 he released his
first jazz album entitled “Sir Jonathan Williams, To Sir with Love.” He recently released a single entitled “Your
Place or Mine”. Mr. Williams continues to do productions for the Sugar Hill Record Label.
2019 Inductees into the VIAHA Hall of Fame were:
Athletes – Charles Bonaparte, Benjamin Brown, Warren Canada, Robert Dandridge, Fred Harold Sawyer and Louis
Coaches – William Bailey, James Earley and Carl Peal.
Contributors – William A. Brown, Cheryl Anthony Epps and Roger Gregory.
2018 Inductees into the VIAHA Hall of Fame were:
Athletes – Ronald Bolton, Joseph Bradley, Earl Faison, Jim Lewis and Jerry Venable.
Coaches – Alphonso Hamilton, Eugene Thompson, Arnold Thurmond and Willie Travis.
Contributors – William Bailey, Julian Earls and Marguerita Ragsdale.
2017 Inductees into the VIAHA Hall of Fame were:
Athletes – Mattie Parham Bell, Leroy Keyes, Albert Arthur Megginson, Marty Miller and Charles Price.
Coaches – Howard Allen, Walter Lovett and Harry Waters.
Contributors – Garwin DeBerry, Clarence Oliver and Knox W. Tull, Jr.
2016 Inductees into the VIAHA Hall of Fame were:
Athletes – Walter Bowser, Roosevelt Brown, Joseph Buggs, Jesse Jefferson, Jr., Louvenia Johnson, Earl Lloyd,
Raymond Pollard, Benita Fitzgerald Moseley, Bryant Stith, Charles Stukes and Donald Ross.
Coaches – Fredrick Cooper, Arthur Gardner, Robinette Hayes, George Lancaster, William Lawson, Jr., Thad
Madden, Carl Pinn, George Quarles, Maxie Robinson and Robert Smith.
Contributors – James Hayes, Calvin Jacox, Clarence Jones, George Peterson, Elmer Sampson and Ernest Shaw.
Special Recognition – The Armstrong-Walker Football Classic.