“If we can organize the southern states for massive resistance to this order I think in time the rest of the country will realize that racial integration is not going to be accepted in the South.”
Virginia was determined not to be like Little Rock. In 1957, after a showdown with Arkansas state officials, President Eisenhower ordered units of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division to protect students desegregating Central High School. Virginia state officials wanted none of the shouting mobs, federal government intervention, or media attention.
Instead, in 1956, the Virginia General Assembly had empowered the governor to close any schools under court order to desegregate. This statute was the linchpin of Virginia’s program of Massive Resistance, which sought to prevent the implementation of the Brown decision. Citizens groups, such as the Defenders of State Sovereignty and Individual Liberties, pressured state politicians to take a hard line. Virginia’s congressmen called for defiance in Washington, while newspaper editors bolstered the resistance.
The NAACP, however, was intent on fulfilling Brown’s mandate. Massive Resistance culminated in the fall of 1958, when Governor J. Lindsay Almond closed schools in Norfolk, Charlottesville, and Warren County. Those schools remained closed until January 1959, when both federal and state courts declared the 1956 laws unconstitutional. Statewide Massive Resistance was dead, but the General Assembly adopted tuition grant programs and “freedom of choice” plans that succeeded in delay-ing widespread desegregation for almost a decade.
“I am confident the people of Virginia will receive the opinion of the Supreme Court calmly and take time to carefully and dispassionately consider the situation before coming to conclusions on steps which should be taken.”
AMBIGUITY: THE COURT'S DECISION
“With all deliberate speed”
ACQUIESCENCE: THE PRESIDENT'S REACTION
ANIMOSITY: SOUTHERN CONGRESSMEN RESPOND
The Southern Manifesto
LOCAL RESPONSE TO
LOCAL RESPONSE TO BROWN II
“It could be said that the courts ruled at noon that Negroes must be admitted to Prince Edward public schools, to which the county responded at 8 o’clock—there will be no public schools.”
“In our resoluteness let us maintain our perspective. We have taken a stand for principle which we believe is right, namely, separate schools for the white and Negro races in Virginia. Because the county of Prince Edward was chosen as defendant in the integration suit, it has become the focal point of the Court’s implementation. The people of Prince Edward believe they have acted in the best interest not only for this County but for the State of Virginia. Let it be said also that the people of this county are education conscious… ”
On May 31, 1955, the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors expressed its willingness to close county schools rather than integrate them. The chairman appealed to citizens who remained undecided, asserting that the board would “use every legal and honorable means to continue the high type of education we proposed to give the children of both races in Prince Edward County.”
DEFENDERS OF STATE SOVEREIGNTY
A nominating committee including Farmville Herald editor J. Barrye Wall and Congressman Watkins Abbitt selected Prince Edward County School Board Chairman Robert Crawford (ABOVE) to be president of the Defenders.
“Unless something be done, and unless something be done now, integration will begin in Virginia, and, once begun, it like every other vile pestilence, will spread to the point where it has covered the whole body politic. Whether it comes in our day, our children will see the death of our Anglo-Saxon Civilization”
THE ALLEN DECISION
[We require] the defendants to receive and consider the applications of such persons for admission to the white high school of the County on a non-racial basis without regard to race or color; and to take immediate steps in this regard to the end that the applications be considered
so as to permit the entrance of qualified persons into the white school in the school term beginning September 1959.
— OPINION OF THE U.S. FOURTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS, ALLEN V. COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD OF PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY.
“In short, the constitutional rights of children not to be discriminated against in school admission on grounds of race or color declared by this Court in the Brown case can neither be nullified openly and directly by state legislators or state executive or judicial officers, nor nullified indirectly by them through evasive schemes for segregation whether attempted ‘ingeniously or ingenuously.’
“An interrupted education of one year or even six months at that age places a serious handicap upon a child which the average one may not overcome. It is my belief that at this time, a continuation of present methods could not be so harmful as an interrupted education.”
“If we can organize the Southern states for massive resistance to this order I think, in time, the rest of the country will realize that racial integration is not going to be accepted in the South.”
THE GRAY COMMISSION
“I shall call together as quickly as practicable representatives of both State and local governments to consider the matter and work toward a plan which will be acceptable to our citizens and in keeping with the edict of the Court."
VIRGINIA PREPARES TO RESIST
“We desire to have recorded our unalterable opposition to the principle of integration of the races in the schools.
A QUESTION OF STATES' RIGHTS
“… But I do know that the mill wheels of the courts grind exceedingly slow and we can litigate a long, long time before mixed schools ever become a reality in eastern Virginia."
VIRGINIA'S MASSIVE RESISTANCE
THE SOUTHERN MANIFESTO
MARCh 12, 1956
“It’s no secret that the NAACP intends first to press Virginia.
“...If Virginia surrenders, if Virginia’s line is broken, the South will go down, too.”
The “Southern Manifesto,” formally known as the Declaration of Constitutional Principles, was signed by 101 congressmen, including the entire congressional delegations of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia. Virginia Congressman Howard Smith introduced the resolution, which called the Brown v. Board decision an “unwarranted exercise of power by the Court,” and vowed the states would use “all lawful means to bring about a reversal of this decision.”
HE RUNS VIRGINIA
“He runs Virginia."
“Although many Virginians are too genteel to use the term, Senator Byrd is the boss of the machine and of the state.”
“PAY AS YOU GO"
HARRY FLOOD BYRD
1887 - 1966
Born in Martinsburg, West Virginia and moved to Winchester, Virginia
Attended public schools and Shenandoah Academy in Winchester
Left school at 15 to take over his father’s failing newspaper, the Winchester Evening Star
Virginia state senator 1916–1925
Virginia’s 50th governor 1926–1930
United States Senator from Virginia 1933–1965
Harry F. Byrd was a descendant of the colonial Virginia family of William Byrd. His father had served as the speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and his maternal uncle had served in the Virginia State Senate before being elected as a Virginia congressman. He had a lifelong aversion to debt of any kind which guided his approach to government at the state and national levels.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN VIRGINIA
· Extensive reorganization of state government
· Revisions of the state constitution
· Creation of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Development
· Creation of the Virginia Department of Public Welfare
THE HERALD SPEAKS
“Again, we repeat that the sociologists, the psychologists, and the do-gooders are not those who will suffer from strong racial prejudices, but it is we, the people, who make our homes in the South, who will become the victims, socially, religiously, economically—our way of life will have been destroyed."
“For several generations the white and Negro races have lived together to prosper together in the South. A kindly feeling one for another, and a genuine racial respect in the South has formed the basis for a working program beneficial to both races. The keystone in this progress has been the segregation of the races for mutual understanding and happiness.”
JOSEPH BARRYE WALL
1898 - 1985
Born in Farmville, Virginia
Attended Prince Edward County public schools
Graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1919
Purchased Farmville Herald in 1921
Member of Johns Memorial Episcopal Church, as well as the following community organizations: Prince Edward Ruritan Club, the Farmville Masonic Lodge #41, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Modern Woodmen of America. Participated in the founding of Southside Community Hospital, the Weyanoke Hotel, and the Farmville Area Development Corporation. At his death in 1985, held the record for longest term of service on the Farmville Town Council—26 years from 1928 to 1954.
“We regret that it is necessary to devote so much of the editorial space to the discussion of the race problem,... it is our hope that information in these columns will cause enough people to think to the end that our community, its progress and its fine institutions will not be pulled asunder by a few in their misguided zeal.”
“So we begin the Second Reconstruction of the South. So descends the military heel… This Republic has not known a blacker day. ”
Democratic candidate for governor J. Lindsay Almond declared that a Republican victory at the polls would be regarded as “approval of the invasion…of Arkansas” and would “constitute an invitation for the creation of many ‘Little Rocks’ in Virginia.”
THE SPACE RACE
“This is a new and dangerous world."
“The Sputnik satellite casts a shadow not lightly to be brushed aside...”
EAST MEETS WEST
THE DAYS OF ROCK AND ROLL
VIRGINIA CLOSES ITS SCHOOLS
“The agonizing study I have given this problem over a period of many months has persuaded me that so far as a state system of public education is concerned, integration anywhere means destruction everywhere....
I have not been elected Governor to preside over the liquidation of Virginia’s schools.”
JANUARY 11, 1958
J. Lindsay Almond, Jr. becomes governor of Virginia.
In three of the NAACP’s State Supreme Court cases involving Virginia localities, Charlottesville, Norfolk, and Warren County, the court ruled that desegregation must begin immediately.
Rather than see them integrated, Governor J. Lindsay Almond,v Jr. closed these schools, leaving nearly 13,000 Virginia children without public education.
“If school closings were needed to bring Virginia to its senses, then the sooner we reach that crisis, the better.”
CLOSED—september 12, 1958
“FRONT ROYAL, Va., A group of Negro students who tried unsuccessfully to enroll in Warren County High School which has been closed down to avoid integration, and their parents, met at a nearby Negro church afterwards. Oliver Hill, NAACP attorney, is shown addressing the gathering. Hill said the NAACP would seek Federal Court action to force the county to admit Negroes in compliance with a court order.”
CLOSED—september 19, 1958
CLOSED—september 27, 1958
“Not As Segregationists
Or Integrationists But
As Students Who Want
An Education, We Ask
You To Please Keep
Our Schools Open.”
THE COLLAPSE OF MASSIVE RESISTANCE
The Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and a federal panel of judges declared Virginia’s massive resistance and school closing laws to be invalid.
TO THOSEwhose purpose and design is to blend and amalgamate the white and Negro race and destroy the integrity of both races.
TO THOSEwho disclaim that they are integrationists but are working day and night to integrate the schools.
TO THOSEwho don’t care what happens to the children of Virginia. To those false prophets of a ‘little or token integration.’
TO THOSEin high places and elsewhere who advocate integration for your children and send their own to private or public segregated schools.
TO THOSEwho defend or close their eyes to the livid stench of Satanism, sex, immorality, and juvenile pregnancy infesting the mixed schools of the District of Columbia and elsewhere.
TO THOSE who would overthrow the customs, mores, and traditions of a way of life which has endured in honor and decency for centuries and embraced a new moral code prepared by nine men in Washington whose moral concepts they know nothing about.
TO THOSE who would substitute strife, bitterness, turmoil, and chaos for the tranquility and happiness of an orderly society.
TO THOSEwho would destroy our way of life because of their pretended concerns over what Soviet Russia may think of us.
TO ALL THESE and their confederates, comrades, and allies, let me make it abundantly clear for the record now and hereafter as governor of this state; I will not yield to that which I know will be wrong and will destroy every rational semblance of public education for thousands of the children of Virginia. I call upon the people of Virginia to stand firmly with me in this struggle, be not dismayed by recent judicial deliveries.
— GOV. J. LINDSAY ALMOND, JR., RADIO ADDRESS, JANUARY 20, 1959
FEBRUARY 28, 1959
A week after his defiant speech in support of “massive resistance” Gov. J. Lindsay Almond called an emergency session of the Virginia General Assembly, during which he orchestrated the repeal of the Stanley Plan legislation, noting that massive resistance “has run its course.”
In February 1959, schools that had been closed in Charlottesville, Norfolk, and Warren County reopened as integrated schools.
FEBRUARY 2, 1959
INTEGRATED SCHOOLS OPEN PEACEFULLY
IN NORFOLK, AND ARLINGTON COUNTY