Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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VIRGINIANS RESPOND

Introduction:

How did Virginians react to the Brown v. Board of Education court decision and Virginia's policy of massive resistance?

Lesson Images

Governor Stanley

Governor Thomas B. Stanley response to the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. May 17, 1954 (WRVA–386). WRVA Radio Collection, Accession 38210, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. Audio Clip (Transcription)

J. Lindsay Almond

J. Lindsay Almond School Integration Speech. January 20, 1959 (WRVA–386). WRVA Radio Collection, Accession 38210, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. Audio Clip (Transcription)

Letter Dohme to Almond

Letter from Ainslee B. Dohme and Alvin R. L. Dohme, Front Royal, to Maurice Bowen, Front Royal. February 26, 1959. Warren County Board of Supervisors, Petitions and Letters For and Against Public School Integration, February–March 1959, Accession 39570. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (High Res)

Leon Bacon to Gov. Stanley, 1955

Letter from Robert Leon Bacon, Richmond, to Governor Thomas B. Stanley, Richmond. December 2, 1955. Office of the Governor, Thomas B. Stanley Papers. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (Transcription | High Res)

Mourning Card to Gov. Almond

Mourning card from Warren Spitler to Governor James Lindsay Almond. Ca. 1959. Office of the Governor, J. Lindsay Almond Papers, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (High Res)

Telegram Key to Almond

Telegram from L. S. Key, Charlottesville, to Governor James Lindsay Almond. April 21, 1961. Office of the Governor, J. Lindsay Almond Papers. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (High Res)

Letter Bowman to Almond

Letter from John G. Bowman, Front Royal, to Governor James Lindsay Almond, Richmond. April 4, 1959. Office of the Governor, J. Lindsay Almond Papers. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (High Res)

Petition Halifax County, 1955

Petition from the citizens of Halifax County. 1955. Virginia Senate Office of the Clerk, Correspondence of Clerk Ben D. Lacy. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (High Res)

Petition from Blackstone, 1959

Petition from Blackstone. 1959. Office of the Governor, J. Lindsay Almond Papers. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (High Res)

Telegram from the VA Congress of Colored Parents, 1959

Telegram from Virginia Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers, Petersburg, to Governor James Lindsay Almond, Richmond. November 22, 1958. Office of the Governor, J. Lindsay Almond Papers. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (High Res)

Letter from Baptist Minister's Confrence, 1960

Letter from Baptist Ministers' Conference of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Vicinity, to Governor James Lindsay Almond, Richmond. January 19, 1960. Office of the Governor, J. Lindsay Almond Papers. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (High Res)

Letter, Auvil to Gov. Stanley

Letter from Carl E. Auvil, Falls Church, to Governor Thomas B. Stanley, Richmond. November 15, 1954. Office of the Governor, Thomas B. Stanley Papers. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (High Res)

Telegram from Cuyahoga to Gov. Almond

Telegram from Cuyahoga (Ohio) Civic Federation to Governor James Lindsay Almond, Richmond. Office of the Governor, J. Lindsay Almond Papers. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. (High Res)

Standards Of Learning

GOVT.1, VUS.1, VUS.14

Historical Information:

This Lesson Plan was created by Jennifer Zecher, a teacher at Park View High School in Sterling and one of the Library of Virginia's 2010 Brown Research Teacher Fellows.

Following nearly two decades of legal challenges to the effects of racial segregation in public schools and higher education, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, on May 17, 1954, that state laws requiring the separation of races in public schools were unconstitutional. However, integration was long process in the United States. The Commonwealth of Virginia led a "massive resistance" movement, threatening to close public schools rather than desegregate. This lesson shows how average Virginians viewed the subject of integration of public schools.

Vocabulary

• Jim Crow laws — laws that segregated African Americans in public facilities and in other areas including social behavior

Plessy v. Ferguson — the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court case that approved the use of separate public facilities for blacks and whites, as long as the accommodations were equal

• segregation — separation of the races

• integration — ending of the separation of the races; achieved when people of different races are treated as equals in public places and in society

• desegregation — ending of the separation of the races; the combining of people of different races in public places by law

Brown v. Board of Education — famous 1954 Supreme Court case that overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (separate but equal) and led to the desegregation of public schools

• Ku Klux Klan — a secret society of white supremacists in the United States; was formed in the nineteenth century to terrorize newly freed people, and has had two revitalizations: in the early twentieth century and during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s to intimidate African Americans and those people who support integration

• intolerance — unwillingness to respect opinions or beliefs other than your own or people different from yourself

• states' rights — a belief that individual states should have the ability to govern independent of federal powers, and that the authority of the central, or federal, government should be limited

• Massive Resistance — policy spearheaded in Virginia by U.S. senator Harry Byrd to create state laws to oppose the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education and stop desegregation

Lesson Activities

  1. In a whole-class setting, ask the class the following question: How do you think Virginians reacted to the Brown v. Board of Education court decision?

 Have students think-pair-share with a partner and then share with the whole class.

  2. Introduce the Governor Stanley radio clip. As the clip is playing, have students write down their thoughts and reactions to his speech. After the clip has played, ask students the following questions:

    •a) What is Governor Stanley's position on the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education?

    •b) How does he want Virginians to respond to the ruling?

  3. Introduce the Governor Almond Speech. It was given in 1959, five years later than the Stanley speech. As the clip is playing have students write down their thoughts and reactions to his speech. After the clip is played ask students the following questions:

    •a) What is Governor Almond's position on the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education?

    •b) How does he want Virginians to respond to the ruling?

  4. Break the class into groups of 3–4 students each. Give each group all twelve letters from Virginians from a variety of regions of the state. In their small groups, students should read the letters and complete the chart (Handout 1).

  5. After the chart is completed, have each group present two of the letters to the whole class. In the discussion, students should talk about whether their letters represent the response they thought Virginians would have to the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education. Students should also discuss the issues of concern that were raised in each letter.

  6. Wrap-Up Writing Exercise: Which of the letters did you find the most surprising? What about your chosen letter surprised you? How did this letter open your eyes to your preconceived ideas about a Virginian's reaction to Brown v. Board of Education?

Extension Activities

  1. Have students research the closing of Prince Edward County Schools and present their findings to the class.

  2. Using Library of Virginia resources, have students research the Massive Resistance movement in Virginia and present their findings to the class.

  3. Have students create a music video presentation that covers the school crisis in Virginia after the Brown v. Board of Education decision through the late 1960s. The video should have both pictures and written information.

Lesson Handouts

Handout 1 PDF Handout (39 KB)

Suggested Materials

1. Golenbock, Peter, and Paul Bacon. Teammates. Orlando: Voyager Books, 1990.

2. Edwards, Pamela Duncan, and Danny Shanahan. The Bus Ride That Changed History: The Story of Rosa Parks. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005.

3. Broonzy, Big Bill. "Black, Brown, and White." Black, Brown, and White. Evidence, 1995. (This is a song, originally recorded in 1951 and then again in 1952. Versions of it and lyrics are available online.)

4. Haskins, Jim. The Dream and the Struggle: Separate But Equal. New York: Scholastic, Inc. 2001.

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