Education: Segregation Preserved

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Prince Edward County, in the tobacco country of south central Virginia, last week became the first community anywhere to abandon its schools entirely in order to prevent desegregation. The trick was simply turned: the county supervisors. "with profound regret," canceled school appropriations for next year.

One of the original defendants in the Supreme Court's 1954 decision. Prince Edward has been battling school integration ever since. Last year it got a remarkable ruling from U.S. District Judge Sterling Hutcheson (TIME. Aug. 18), who gave the county until 1965 to desegregate. Last month the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered integration by next fall. There is little chance of that now. The county's two public high schools and 18 grade schools will stay shut. For some 1,500 white children, Prince Edward will set up private schools supported by donations (asking for state money might bring down the law). For more than 1,700 Negro students there will be no schools.

The county supervisors — who may be imitated by other arch-segregationist Virginia communities — said they did not act last week "in defiance of any law or of any court." Legally, they may be right: the schools under court order to integrate will not exist. Morally, their position had an odd sound: "Above all, we do not act with hostility toward the Negro people of Prince Edward County." The Richmond Times-Dispatch (circ. 134,360) cheered: "Your firm determination not to have mixed schools in your county is understood and supported throughout Virginia. Do not let yourselves be pushed around. Continue to maintain your reputation for good order, good race relations and good citizenship."