Education: Integration & Defiance

  • Share
  • Read Later

Prince Edward County, deep in the tobacco and pulpwood country of south-central Virginia, kept Negroes out of white schools for four years after the Supreme Court ordered integration, but this summer, time seemed to be running out. The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered U.S. District Judge Sterling Hutcheson to set a date for integration. The county school board—one of the defendants in the legal fight that led to the Supreme Court's 1954 decision —bid for a five-year delay, to make a "sociological survey."

Every white congregation in Farmville (pop. 5,000), the county seat, prepared to turn its church into an integration-dodging private school at the drop of a gavel. But last week the churches got the news that they would be used only to glorify God. In a decision that Virginia's Governor J. Lindsay Almond Jr. called the "epitome of judicial statesmanship," Federal Judge Hutcheson—who was born in black-belt Mecklenburg County 64 years ago—granted the board a delay not of five but of seven years.

Plenty of Omens. The two-years-for-good-measure reflected the mood of the South last week: the triumphant primary victory of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus (TIME, Aug. 11) boosted segregationist hopes that the Federal Government can successfully be defied. Integration leaders and law-abiding moderates look gloomily toward the beginning of the fifth school year after the Supreme Court decision. The Deep South will generally continue to bar all Negroes; the border states give little promise of progress, plenty of omens of trouble.

Little Rock, in almost any case, will be a focus of struggle. If the U.S. Court of Appeals upholds Federal Judge Harry Lemley's 2½-year delay in integration (TIME, July 14), the use of further legalized delay will apparently have to be overset or affirmed on further appeal to the Supreme Court. If no delay is permitted and Negro students are not Faubused into staying away from Central High School on registration day, there will almost certainly be more uproar.

Such states as Kentucky, relatively calm since the Clay-Sturgis-Henderson flare-ups of 1956, look for no obstacles to steadily broadening integration. But at this time last year, no one foresaw a blowup at Little Rock. Racist politicians will need less courage this year; Faubus showed that the reward for demagoguery is victory at the polls. Only last week Segregationist Buford Ellington won the decisive Democratic primary in Tennessee.

Massive Resistance. Virginia's "massive resistance" laws (TIME, June 2) are a patently unconstitutional fortress-of-cards, but the state's lawmakers are manning the battlements with determination. Norfolk, Newport News, Charlottesville and Northern-infiltrated Arlington face court integration orders. Charlottesville, where schools are scheduled to open Sept. 2, may find legal delays to avoid being the first Virginia city whose schools are closed by massive resistance laws.

  1. Previous Page
  2. 1
  3. 2