Norfolk 17 member Andrew Heidelberg was born on November 6, 1943 in Norfolk, Virginia to Lena and Colonal Heidelberg. After desegregation rulings by federal judges in 1957 and 1959 against a fight led by Governor J. Lindsay Almond, Heidelberg began his education at Norview High School, five years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education. At the age of fourteen, Heidelberg joined sixteen other African Americans selected out of the 151 who had applied to attend all-white schools. Split between three junior high and three high schools, The Norfolk 17 started Norfolk’s schools’ integration efforts in Virginia. In 1961 during his senior year, Heidelberg made the school football team and was the first African American to play varsity football at an all-white public school in Virginia and in the South. That same year, his team won the Eastern District championship for the State of Virginia and brought together black and white families alike.
In 1967, Heidelberg entered the banking industry and worked at Industrial National Bank of Providence, Rhode Island. He became the bank’s first African American Branch Manager, Credit Officer, and Commercial Loan Officer before he left in 1976 to found Heidelberg, Clary & Associates, Inc. After the firm closed, Heidelberg worked at Barclays Bank of New York and Banco de Ponce-New York as a Vice President and Corporate Manager. In 2001, Heidelberg graduated from Norfolk State University with his B.S. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. He went on to serve as Assistant Treasurer and Chief Deputy Treasurer for the City of Hampton in 2003. He returned to Norview High School in 2009 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of “Massive Resistance” in Virginia.
Heidelberg was selected by Governor Mark Warner in 2005 to serve a two-year term as a member of the Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship Awards Committee. He was appointed to serve two additional consecutive two-year terms (through 2011) by Governor Tim Kaine. In 2006 he published his story in the book The Norfolk 17: A Personal Narrative on Desegregation in Norfolk, Virginia in 1958-1962. Heidelberg also finished writing a screenplay in 2009 based on the book The Colored Halfback scheduled for publication in 2010.
Heidelberg passed away on July 6, 2015 at the age of 71.
Andrew Heidelberg was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 10, 2010.