Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. F.W. Gregory


An analysis of the events in Virginia resulting from the Brown desegregation decision of 1954 has justifiably been the subject of considerable study. The importance of this period of "massive resistance" to integrated schools should not be minimized because the South looked primarily to the Old Dominion for leadership. However, studies undertaken thus far have concentrated principally on the initial reaction of Virginia to the decision and the formation of the maze of obstructionist measures contrived to prevent integration, while largely neglecting the important aspect of the state's use of the "freedom of choice" policy in Virginia's schools.

An examination of this period requires a basic knowledge of the political forces operating in Virginia. The Byrd organization dominated the power structure, particularly in the rural areas and Southside Virginia. The leaders form these areas wielded influence far above the percentage of the state population that their constituents represented. Because of their backgrounds, these men followed the lead of chief architect Senator Harry F. Byrd in formulating resistance legislation and were extremely reluctant to permit any school integration in Virginia.

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