VCU Launches Project on Massive Resistance - Higher Education

Higher Education News and Jobs

VCU Launches Project on Massive Resistance

Email




by The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Commonwealth University is launching an oral-history project that explores the Massive Resistance policy in Virginia during the 1950s and ‘60s.

The project will record the stories of hundreds of schoolchildren denied an education by the closure of the state’s public schools in defiance of the Supreme Court’s order to desegregate.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/oQtZxR) that the university is teaming up with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission to track down former students from five localities that closed their schools. The commission oversaw Virginia’s observance of the 50th anniversary of the public school closings.

The state-supported massive resistance policies – initiated in the late 1950s by U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr., D-Va. — urged localities not to integrate their schools, as mandated by the 1954 Brown v. Board decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Public schools of Arlington County, Charlottesville, Norfolk, Prince Edward County and Warren County closed as a result of the policy.

White leaders in some localities founded academies for White children. Some Black children moved to live with family members out of state so they could attend school, but many stopped their education altogether.

Many of the state’s Massive Resistance records have been lost or destroyed, so the project is “the best opportunity we have to preserve that portion of Virginia’s history,” said Brenda Edwards, who oversees the King commission’s Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship program

Shawn O. Utsey, chairman of the Department of African American Studies at VCU, said the project also is meant to help former students, many of whom are now in their 60s, to get closure on that part of their lives. Starting this spring, the university will offer a class that teaches students how to record the oral histories.

Related:  Dr. Maya Angelou Wins High Honor

“We don’t want to just get the story and leave,” Utsey said. “We want to begin to facilitate some healing.”

State Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond, a former civil rights attorney who represented schoolchildren in the integration of Norfolk’s public schools and has referred to Massive Resistance as “a tragedy that tore Virginia apart,” is chairman of the King commission and working with the university on the project.

“We need to create a cadre of people who can help us preserve that history, and this is an outstanding way to do it,” Marsh said. “If we don’t learn from our history, we’re doomed to repeat our mistakes.”

RELATED ARTICLES >>
Scholars: Fisher Decision Gives Colleges ‘Breathing Room’ to Consider Race in Admissions In a long-awaited decision hailed as a victory for college diversity but which critics assailed as a harmful to its intended beneficiaries, the Supreme Court on Thursday decided — 4 to 3 — to uphold the use of race-conscious affirmative action in col...
Supreme Court Rejects Fisher, Upholds Use of Race in College Admissions (This developing story will be updated.) WASHINGTON ― The U.S. Supreme Court handed the University of Texas at Austin a major victory Thursday in support of its right to consider race and ethnicity as a component of its admissions policy. In a ...
State High Court Orders New Hearing in UConn Animal Research Case HARTFORD, Conn. ― The Connecticut Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a lower court judge to hold another hearing to determine whether the names of some University of Connecticut animal researchers can be kept secret to protect their safety. People...
40 Years After Students Sparked Apartheid’s End, a New Anger JOHANNESBURG ― The day was a key moment in the long campaign to end South Africa’s harsh apartheid system of White-minority rule. Forty years ago, black students in Johannesburg’s Soweto township marched in protest and some were gunned down by police...
Semantic Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *