The Resource Petitions and letters for and against public school integration

Petitions and letters for and against public school integration

Petitions and letters for and against public school integration, 1959 Feb.-Mar
Petitions and letters for and against public school integration
Inclusive dates
1959 Feb.-Mar
This collection consists of letters and petitions received by the Warren County Board of Supervisors from residents for and against public school integration. The letters, 24-27 February and March 1959, primarily request the Board of Supervisors to adopt a normal school budget for the 1959-60 school year and not close the public schools. A letter from J. R. Orgain, Jr., however, asks the Board of Supervisors to cut off funds for integrated schools. The petitions are signed by residents who want to maintain segregated schools and do not want any money appropriated to operate integrated schools. These petitions are either printed forms or cut out from the newspaper in which they appeared as paid advertisements. Also includes a newsletter, 24 February 1959, of the Warren County Committee for Public Schools clarifying why white students did not return to Warren County High School when the federal courts ordered the school re-opened and explaining that the remainder of the term would be substandard; and news clippings from the WARREN SENTINEL, 5 and 12 March 1959, regarding the petitions and an appeal from local clergy to keep the public schools open
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Biographical or historical data
On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas, declared segregated schools unconstitutional. To circumvent the court's decision, the Virginia General Assembly embarked on a program of "Massive Resistance" and passed legislation designed to close schools ordered to integrate. In late August 1959, Judge John Paul of the United States District for the Fourth Circuit ordered black students admitted to Warren County High School in Front Royal. Judge Simon E. Sobeloff of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case on appeal but refused to halt Judge Paul's order. Governor J. Lindsay Almond, Jr., placed the school under his control and ordered it closed as required by the massive resistance legislation. Thus, Warren County High School earned the dubious distinction of being the first Virginia school closed under the massive resistance legislation. In January 1959, both the federal courts and the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that the school closing laws violated the United States and Virginia constitutions. Warren County High School reopened in late February, but with only twenty-two black students; the white students remained in the private school established when the high school closed. Segregationists took this to mean that the majority of white people desired segregated schools, and while some undoubtedly did, many parents refused to disrupt their children's education further by switching schools in mid-year. The segregationists circulated petitions asking the Board of Supervisors not to allocate funding for integrated schools for the 1959-1960 school term, but to no avail. In September 1959, white students returned to the now desegregated high school.
Cataloging source
Petitions and letters for and against public school integration
  • The Library of Virginia
Cumulative index finding aids
  • Inventory
  • Inventory
Governing access note
Immediate source of acquisition
Warren County Circuit Court Clerk's Office
Type of unit
cu. ft.

Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
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