In this WSB newsfilm clip from Arlington County, Virginia in August 21, 1958, CBS reporter George Herman interviews Jack Rathbone about the creation of a private school for white children should the courts order school integration.
The clip begins by showing a chalkboard with the phrase "George Mason School" written on it. The camera pans left to focus on a house with a United States flag hanging from the porch. CBS reporter George Herman interviews Jack Rathbone, who is wearing a suit and a bow tie. Reporter Herman asks Rathbone how he and his supporters got the idea to turn the building behind them into a school. Rathbone reports that his organization, the Tenth District Educational Corporation, is following the example set by Prince Edward School Foundation in Farmville, Prince Edward County, Virginia. Prince Edward County had used vacant buildings to set up an all-white private school. He continues that he views the private school as "a temporary bomb shelter for our children, as someplace for them to go when integration does strike Virginia." Asked if the foundation has enough money to run the school, Rathbone replies that it does. Herman asks about the education of African American children if the public schools close rather than integrate, and Rathbone reports that the white parents who organized the school have volunteered to share information with African American parents "so they can set up the same type of buildings for themselves." Herman asks if the African American parents would have to raise their own funds for the private schools. Rathbone's reply is not completely recorded. After a break in the clip, Rathbone asserts that Virginia schools will only integrate if federal forces make them do so. He declares that if the federal government forces schools to desegregate, a private educational system will be set up for white children in response. The clip breaks again and then ends with Rathbone emphasizing that "the South will never accept integration."
Following the May 17, 1954 United States Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, African American parents in Arlington County, Virginia hoped the local school board would begin desegregating local schools. However state officials, led by legislators from the more racially-charged, southern part of Virginia, built a state-wide plan of "massive resistance" to school integration. The laws passed by the Virginia aimed at preventing desegregation included denying state funding to integrated schools, creating tuition grants so white students could attend all-white private schools, and creating a state-wide pupil placement board to determine which schools students could attend. In response, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed lawsuits in Charlottesville, Norfolk, and Arlington and Warren Counties seeking to overturn these laws and to integrate the schools. In the Arlington County case, which involved both African American and white parents, federal judge Albert V. Bryan in 1956 ordered the elementary schools to integrate. The state appealed the ruling, delaying any attempted desegregation. On September 5, 1957, the first day of the school year, eight African American students not involved in the NAACP lawsuit tried to enroll in four all-white schools across Arlington County. The students were turned away. Later that month, Judge Bryan ruled that the Arlington County School Board must immediately admit seven of the eight students. More appeals by the school board and the state again delayed integration. The following summer, responding to the growing threats of integrated schools, Arlington County segregationists led by Jack Rathbone formed the Tenth District Educational Corporation to provide private schools for white students seeking to avoid integration. The first "model school," established in a former home near the county courthouse, was dubbed the "George Mason Grammar and Academic High School." On September 17, 1958, after reviewing assignments made under the Arlington County School Board's pupil placement plan, Judge Bryan ruled that four African American students should be admitted to Stratford Junior High School in February 1959. In January 1959, both state and federal appeals courts struck down a Virginia law requiring integrated schools to close. In a special session held at the end of January 1959, Virginia governor Lindsay Almond told the legislators that massive resistance was dead and that there was no way to stop desegregation in Arlington County and other Virginia communities. During the special session, the legislature repealed a compulsory education law and provided funds for tuition grants for white students who refused to attend integrated schools. On Monday, February 2, 1959, four African American students integrated Stratford Junior High School in Arlington County, Virginia; by the end of the week, seven previously all-white schools in various parts of the state were integrated with no reported violence.
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.
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Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of CBS reporter George Herman interviewing Jack Rathbone, executive secretary of the Tenth District Educational Corporation, about a private school set up to serve white children should the courts order school integration in Arlington County, Virginia, 1958 August 21, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0835, 26:29/28:06, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.