Students at William Fleming High School got a lesson Monday they won't soon forget.
They heard from Andrew Heidelberg, a member of the "Norfolk 17."
Heidelberg and 16 other black students integrated Norfolk schools.
He attended Norview High School in Norfolk. Until 1957, it was an all white school.
He admits he agreed to go to Norview because he didn't want to get in trouble for getting home late. When he went inside, members of the NAACP were talking to his parents.
"I got one or two choices. I can say no and I still may get a beating when the people leave or I could say yes and come off as a hero to my parents," Heidelberg told the crowd at William Fleming High School.
He didn't sugarcoat his experiences. He told several stories of hatred and death threats.
"They called me a nigger, coon, black, or Charlie Brown. They had more names than I know I had," said Heidelberg.
Over time, Heidelberg joined the football team and slowly won over his teammates.
But he still saw prejudices like the time he played a football game in Lynchburg and was told he'd have to eat in the kitchen of a local restaurant.
"I'd been seated about 15 seconds and in through the door my two best friends walk in and they said if you eat in the kitchen, we eat in the kitchen," he told the crowd.
That story really resonated with the William Fleming students.
"Two white guys came back there and with him. That just shows a lot, what he'd been through and what's it like to have friends," said Senior Mike Henderson.
"After hearing something like that, you really have to care and appreciate him after everything he's been through," said Senior Melissa Jones.
During his speech, Heidelberg had to stop several times to wipe away tears.
He told News 7, "It just lets me know how deeply hurt I was at those things and makes me a little more compassionate."
Heidelberg is retired. He lives in Hampton and is currently earning his masters degree.