In this WSB newsfilm clip from January 28, 1959, Virginia governor J. Lindsay Almond speaks to the General Assembly at a special session held in Richmond, Virginia, following state and federal court rulings against state laws forming a policy of massive resistance to school desegregation.
The clip begins by showing the Virginia State Capitol building. Inside the building, legislators mill around the legislative chamber and later clap. On the floor, white men give a standing ovation to an unseen speaker. In the balcony, white men and women also stand and clap. Governor J. Lindsay Almond speaks from a podium, but his comments are not recorded. Legislators listen as they stand or sit near rows of desks. When Almond begins to speak, he admits that pupil placement plans, once used to keep African American children out of white schools, cannot succeed. He then declares that such strategies give power to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to decide the "degree and the tempo" of school integration. After a break in the clip, Almond asserts that in the school desegregation issue, "Virginia has been subjected to pressures more relentless, brutish, and formidable than that applied to any other state." He insists that Virginia has preserved segregated schools longer than other states where segregation has been challenged. According to Almond, Virginia "has not surrendered, and she does not surrender now."
School desegregation lawsuits were first brought in Virginia in 1951 in a Prince Edward County, Virginia case. The suit was later included in the 1954 United States Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled against segregation in public education. In response, Virginia legislators passed a series of laws designed to prevent school integration. Dubbed "massive resistance" by United States senator Harry Byrd, the laws closed and cut off funding to integrated schools and provided tuition grants to white students who did not want to attend desegregated schools. In January 1959, both state and federal courts struck down the school closing law. Governor Almond called a special legislative session beginning January 28 during which he declared the end of massive resistance. On February 2, 1959, schools in Arlington and Norfolk, Virginia were integrated without incident. In Prince Edward County, local officials refused to integrate the schools. Instead they shut down the public school system and opened a private school system for white children. Public schools in Prince Edward County were closed from 1959 until 1964.
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: wsbn40495