In an editorial
Thursday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch
, the paper apologizes for the role played, with the papers complicity, by its former afternoon counterpart, the The News-Leader
in Massive Resistance to desegregation of Virginia's public schools.
The paper notes:
Throughout the episode, Richmond Newspapers played a central role -- but not a centering one. The hour was ignoble. Editorials in The News Leader relentlessly championed Massive Resistance and the dubious constitutional arguments justifying its unworthy cause. Although not so intimately engaged, The Times-Dispatch was complicit. The record fills us with regret, which we have expressed before.
Where the paper does not go is in identifying the Virginia source of Massive Resistance or its proponents. The editorial admits that
"Virginia long has prided itself on its gentility. The state's political tradition has lacked firebrands such as Gene Talmadge, Orval Faubus, George Wallace, Bull Connor, Theodore Bilbo, and James K. Vardaman. Massive Resistance shattered pretensions. Although the commonwealth's campaign to evade Brown v. Board of Education did not produce the pyrotechnics seen in other states, it was directed toward the same dead end."
The editorial itself reaches a dead end of courage and honesty at this point as well. What was the source of Massive Resistance? It can be epitomized in a single man, then Governor of Virginia J. Lindsay Almond
and the Harry S. Byrd political machine he represented. It was Almond who on September 4, 1958 divested school superintendents of the authority to desegregate their schools. It was Almond who on September 15, 1958 closed the Warren County High School. It was Almond who on September 19, 1958 closed Lane High School and Venable Elementary School in Charlottesville to prevent desegregation. It Almond who on September 27, 1958 ordered Norfolk to close its white secondary schools to prevent desegregation. It was not until the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on February 2, 1959 ordered the enrollment of black students in Norfolk and Arlington schools that Governor Almond's attack on the rights of Virginia citizens was turned back. Passive resistance continued for at least another ten years. Almond would later be appointed to the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals by President John F. Kennedy. (Accompanying picture sourced from the Library of Virginia)
When the editorial notes the firebrand opposition of Talmadge, Fauvus, Wallace, Connor, Bilbo and Vardaman while remaining silent about Almond, it also significantly fails to mention the political party home to all of the aforementioned. If readers are unable to immediately identify that party, a subtle hint is that it was not the party of Lincoln. Democrats, the party of slavery, secession, segregation and socialism.