This is the first post of an ongoing blog where I will chronicle the "once in a lifetime" journey I've been on researching and writing the book NORVEL about the remarkable life of Norvel Lee. I'm hoping to post updates here on Friday of most weeks. I'm looking forward to responding to your thoughts, questions and comments each week.
What's amazing to me is how the journey continues even now, after the publication of the book. Just recently I was put in touch with the person whom Norvel's family entrusted his 1952 Olympic gold medal with. Above is a photo of the medal.
And just this week our local weekly newspaper here in Botetourt County, The Fincastle Herald, published an article about the University of Virginia (UVA) establishing a scholarship in the name of Edward Barnett. Barnett was the first African American to graduate from UVA's School of Architecture and is the late brother of Judith Barnett who played an important role in the genesis of the book.
Judy volunteers at the Botetourt County Historical Society. It was Judy, while the Olympics were being held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, who was informed by long time residents of Gala, Virginia, about Norvel Lee's Olympic accomplishments. Judy passed the information along to the Fincastle Herald whose August 17, 2016, publication carried the headline: "Botetourt County native won Olympic gold in the boxing ring." Underneath was the byline stating: "While that was a great accomplishment, it was not the only reason to recognize Norvel Lee."
Barbara, my wife, put that headline in front of me that morning, knowing it would catch my interest. And it did. There was something about the story that compelled me to dig deeper. I wondered why nobody mentioned this to me during the eleven years we had lived here at that point. I wondered why his story was ignored at the time. I needed to find out.
See you next week. Send me your thoughts and questions.