Aired: June 27, 2009

Massive Resistance in Virginia

memorialIn the summer of 2008, a statue honoring leaders of Virginia’s Civil Rights movement was dedicated on the grounds of Capitol Square in Richmond. One of the cast panels features Oliver W. Hill, an attorney who argued the landmark case Brown vs. the Board of Education… before the Supreme Court. Oliver Hill, Jr. (Virginia State University) shares memories of the change his father effected in Virginia over decades. Also, Charles Ford (Norfolk State University) is studying the papers of some moderate civic leaders in Norfolk who publicly opposed Massive Resistance while privately sharing many of the goals of the segregationists.And: James Sweeney (Old Dominion University) shares revealing insights from the diary of an eminent Richmond moderate of the era, David J. Mays.


Want to dig deeper? Explore Encyclopedia Virginia:

Massive Resistance



2 Comments on “Massive Resistance in Virginia”

  1. Don

    I enjoyed your program and appreciate the work that went into it; the interviews were very enlightening.

    I’d like to comment, however, on what was left out — and what is so often left out in the discussion of this memorial: the vital importance of Barbara Johns and the other students of Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia, whose courage to stand up against their second-class status led to the “Davis v. the School Board of Prince Edward County” lawsuit that was included in “Brown v. Board of Education.”

    (See this Smithonsian Institution web page discussing the Moton High students’ role:

    Statues of Barbara Johns and other students are an integral part of the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial. So why are these Farmville students so often ignored, when stories are written or broadcast about this memorial? If it hadn’t been for their action, the attorneys would’ve had no lawsuit to take to the US Supreme Court. It’s not at all hard to find Farmville residents who can talk about their experiences, as many are still living in Farmville and are well-known.

    Just thought I’d ask.

  2. lydia


    Thanks for writing in and sharing Ms. John’s legacy and linking it to the work of Oliver Hill and the other people included in this program. You are absolutely right that those students’ acts of resistance were the foundation for change that continues to impact lives today. There are so many strains to civil rights in Virginia that we chose to focus in on the chance to hear from Oliver Hill’s son in this episode. To hear more about Barbara John’s leadership in the Moton School walkout, I encourage you to listen to a show we produced just a few weeks ago called “The Making of a Civil Rights Museum,” which can be heard here:

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