Jim Crow Discussion
When examining the efforts of the African-American community of Loudoun to educate itself, it ‘s important to also examine efforts to push back, such as the massive resistance movement in Virginia led by U.S. Senator Byrd to reverse the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to integrate schools and life in general. The following recommended bibliography of documents isn’t comprehensive; but based on research in local archives, it does show documents that were read and used by both the integration and segregation camps in Loudoun County.
Background on Brown v Board of Education.
Speech by Larry Roeder at NAACP Rally, Saturday, 7/18/2015 Leesburg Courthouse, Remembering Jim crow and Those Who Resisted; NAACPSpechbyRoeder.
Recommended Bibliography. Unless otherwise noted, these are in the Civil Rights Folder of the LCPS Archives.
- 1955, November 11: The Gray Commission. State Senator Garland Gray chaired the Commission on Public Education, which had been appointed by the Governor on Nov 11, 1954 to examine Brown and make recommendations. Unfortunately, the commission saw Brown and bad law and attacked the Supreme Court for judicial activism, which itself was perceived as an attack on state’s rights. One of the conclusions was that the State could not compel any child to attend an integrated school. The report would become the foundation document for a lot of resistance in Loudoun. Gray Commission 1955.
- 1955, December 13: The State Board of Education issued a statement of support (with associated documents) for the Gray Commission and the concept of a State Constitutional Convention that would retain the free public school system; but not force people to integrate, in other words ignore the U.S. Supreme Court. This particular package also includes documents shared with the various Loudoun schools, one of which argued that “negroes” were receiving benefits out of proportion to their tax contribution. There are also statements from other locations like Mechlenburg. There is also an instruction from the State Board of Education to counties to continue to operate as before. Constitutional Convention Discussion
- 1955, December 18: Statement by U.S. Senator Harry Byrd in support of State constitutional convention to essentially nullify the Supreme Court’s decision on segregation. Byrd was the leader of the great resistance to integration. Byrd Supports Segregation
- 1955, December 19: Letter to Oscar Emerick, Superintendent, LCPS providing the opinion of the Loudoun County Bar Association that the Supreme Court had placed the public schools in jeopardy and that the Virginia Constitution should be amended to avoid forced integration. Loudoun Legal Opinion
- 1956, March 27: Speech by Hon. John Bell Williams of Mississippi which described Brown as the Black Monday decision and pro-integration efforts as “the most vicious brainwashing campaign in the history of the world.” John B. Williams, 3/27/1956. Located: Civil Rights Folder, LCPS Archives.
- 1955, November 10: Resolutions of the Annual Conference of the League of Virginia Counties, which explained that it was “unalterably opposed to integration” and that counties should not be allowed to operate integrated schools. 1955 League Of Va Counties.
- 1955, December 19: Letter to Oscar Emerick, Superintendent containing resolution of Loudoun County Bar Association that saw the Brown decision as endangering public schools and the need to amend the State Constitution to prevent forced integration.
- 1955, December 24: The public school system was under threat of closure by many segregationists, who feared integration. To those, the solution was to send children to private ands parochial schools and not force kids into integrated institutions. One retort to the idea of closure came from the Virginia Teachers Association of Richmond in the Christmas issue of the Virginia Educational Bulletin. 1955 Christmas Va Educational Bulletin.
- 1956, February: Report of a Cooperative Study by the South West Virginia School Superintendents’ Study Group. The group conducted a survey of Superintendents to explore their views as to whether the Constitution of Virginia should be amended to either not require a free public education system or permit funds for private schools. The great majority were opposed to such changes. 1956 Save Our Schools.
- 1956, April 26: Resolution of the Fairfax Citizen’s Council of Virginia. This body essentially said that since the Supreme Court was forcing integration, which was violated the State Constitution, power has returned to the people, and the people felt the State could no longer accept Federal aid for public schools. Fairfax Resolution.
- Here are a set of newspaper articles about the risks of free speech in 1956 when teachers in Appomattox expressed support for integration. One wonders what pressures administrators and teachers in Loudoun also felt “to be quiet.” Appomattox Teachers.
- A suite of newspaper clippings, neutral, negative and positive on segregation and integration. Clippings1955-1956