In this WSB newsfilm clip from August 21, 1958, Virginia governor J. Lindsay Almond speaks to reporters at a press conference held in Richmond, Virginia and declares that schools will close if federal troops are sent to enforce desegregation.
As the clip begins, Almond is sitting at one end of a table with reporters taking notes at the other end of the table. Almond asserts "there will be no enforced integration in Virginia." While expressing his respect for president Dwight Eisenhower, he declares without "defiance" that if federal troops are sent to Virginia to enforce court-ordered desegregation, he will close the schools.
Governor Almond held a press conference on August 21 in response to comments made by president Eisenhower the day before. According to newspaper reports, Eisenhower declared it was "the solemn duty of all Americans to comply with the Supreme Court's order to end racial discrimination in public schools." In other comments made during the press conference and not recorded in this newsfilm clip, Almond defends education as "a state matter" and maintains that desegregation "would destroy the process of education." During his comments, he asked for support of a state policy against racial integration in public schools.
School integration lawsuits in Virginia began in 1951 in Prince Edward County. That case was eventually incorporated into the United States Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. Almond, who was Virginia attorney general at the time, was one of the lawyers who argued in favor of segregated education. On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled against segregation in public education. State officials in Virginia organized a plan of "massive resistance" to court-ordered desegregation, passing laws requiring integrated schools to close and providing tuition grants to white students displaced by school desegregation. In the fall of 1958, nine white public schools closed in Norfolk, Charlottesville, and Warren County, Virginia. On January 20, 1959, both state and federal courts overturned the state law requiring integrated schools to close. After the ruling, Almond called a special legislative session during which he announced the end of the "massive resistance" campaign. The following Monday, February 2, 1959, seven schools in Arlington and Norfolk integrated.
Title supplied by cataloger.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.
Local identification number: Clip number: wsbn34033