Lead: The reaction of the Virginia political establishment to the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing segregated schools was called massive resistance. The plan was the inspiration of the Byrd Machine.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from the Birmingham jail in 1963 that “privileged groups rarely give up their privileges voluntarily.” Perhaps nowhere has that best been demonstrated than Virginia in the 1950s. The news that the U.S. Supreme Court had unanimously declared segregated schools to be inherently unequal, therefore unconstitutional, was greeted throughout the white South with a combination of unbelief, fear, and defiance. To achieve unanimity on the Court, Chief Justice Earl Warren dealt with the constitutional question first and delayed the process of implementation. The South had time to comply or defy. Except for North Carolina, which devised a system of token and isolated desegregation, for the most part the South chose defiance. As it did in 1861, with equally lamentable results, Virginia led the way.

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