local opposition TO "massive resistance"?
April 8, 2014 8:10 AM   Subscribe

"Massive resistance" was a shameful state effort from 1956-1959 to cancel out the Brown v. Board decision. Virginia's Harry Byrd launched it, but the courts ultimately killed it off. I've heard that there was [at least one] petition or letter circulated in opposition to it, but can't find any mention of it. It would have been remarkable in the climate of the time, because signers would surely have lost their jobs. I checked several relevant websites, including that of the Southern Historical Association, but nothing even close. Is anyone familiar enough with the details of this sad chapter to have heard of such an effort?
posted by mmiddle to Law & Government (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You may have already encountered these in your search, but if you're very interested in the rest of that landscape, Massive Resistance and There Goes My Everything are good reads. There's also some appalling action (and counter-action) in Greensboro, NC, documented well in Civilities and Civil Rights--last-ditch efforts to thwart school desegregation that were frankly shocking.
posted by magdalemon at 8:24 AM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's a link about South Carolina. It wasn't until the 1970s that schools actually desegregated in a lot of the South. One interesting thing I've read about is the military's reaction to segregation: rather than compel military members' children to go to such schools they started integrated schools on bases throughout the south. that might be an avenue for you to pursue.
posted by mareli at 11:09 AM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have you looked through the information from the Virginia Historical Society? Also this article. You may want to just call the Historical Society and ask what resources they have on this.

There was a lot of opposition to it from the Black community, including the creation of free schools to educate the Black students who were shut out of the public schools. I'm taking from your context that you mean opposition among whites? To that end, there was opposition from the very beginning. You may want to look at the Virginia Committee for Public Schools.

I'm not at all an expert on this, but grew up in one of the towns that led this particular racist fight, and there will still echoes of it when I was a child in the public schools there.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:58 PM on April 9, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, each of you! Good suggestion about the Va. Historical Society. And I am humbled to say that I did mean white opposition, mainly because I am interested in a particular history professor, who was white; the lore was that he had almost lost his job by signing a letter or petition. But surely the VHS will have more detail than the SHS. Not to take that assumption for granted, but then again, even Mississippi is making the effort to look its history straight in the eye, so to speak.
posted by mmiddle at 8:20 AM on April 10, 2014

I wonder if local NAACP chapters in the relevant localities might have records with useful information? I think the Pittsylvania County, Virginia branch is pretty active and has a long history.
posted by naoko at 2:05 PM on April 10, 2014

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