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An Ascent Shadowed By Questions on Race

Some classmates of Sen. George Allen recall him as a lone cowboy in high school and as an athlete given a
Some classmates of Sen. George Allen recall him as a lone cowboy in high school and as an athlete given a "wide berth" in college. (By Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)

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Others say Allen acted out at school. Tim Good, a classmate, said he had to confront the 6-foot-plus Allen after his younger brother reported that Allen had stolen his bicycle.

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"George Allen was a big bully," said Good, now an accountant in Torrance, Calif. Allen denied stealing the bike, but Good said it reappeared at school the next day.

One morning, students arrived to see workers removing graffiti spray-painted on an outside wall. It was the day of a basketball game with the lone majority-black school in Palos Verdes's athletic conference, Morningside High in Inglewood.

The graffiti included the phrase "Kill Whitey," said Good, who added that former students have said that Allen was responsible. In a 2000 interview with The Post, Allen said there was an incident at school but declined to discuss the details. "I did something wrong when I was young that I regret," he said.

After a year at the University of California at Los Angeles, Allen followed his family east in 1971, when his father was named coach of the Redskins. His football teammates at the University of Virginia said they found some of the same racial insensitivity.

"People gave him a wide berth," said Ken Shelton, one of three former Cavaliers who told Salon magazine in September that Allen regularly used racial slurs for blacks.

Shelton, a North Carolina radiologist, said in an interview that in Newcomb Hall, the student center, Allen would spit tobacco juice "anywhere -- on the walls, on the floors, in the elevators" and habitually shouldered people aside as he walked by.

Change was beginning to stir in Charlottesville, long a clubby redoubt for the sons of Virginia's white establishment. Blacks and women had started to shake up the campus culture. The football team included the first four African Americans to receive full athletic scholarships.

It was a challenging environment for the athletes. Harrison Davis, the Cavaliers' first black starter at quarterback, who regularly received hate mail, said he never heard Allen use racial slurs. Nor did Stanley Land, a defensive tackle. But Land, a Houston chemical executive, said he was offended by the Confederate flags he saw in Allen's van and his campus apartment, especially when some of his teammates were under such pressure.

"To me, that showed a lack of real respect for his African American teammates," Land said.

'Not the Man He Once Was'

In 1979, Roy Parks's land-use and design firm in Charlottesville needed more room. He spoke to George Allen about renting space in the building he owned on Market Street, where he'd set up his law practice. As the negotiations came to naught, Parks said, their conversations drifted to politics.

Allen, getting ready to make his first run for the state legislature, allowed that he had supported a Democrat, Edward Lane, for state attorney general in 1977. Lane had been a segregationist in the 1950s, an architect of Virginia's "massive resistance" movement in which communities closed schools rather than comply with court orders to integrate. He lost to Republican J. Marshall Coleman.


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