Case 1 of “The Virginia Way of Life Must Be Preserved” Exhibit

A few nice filing lawsuits images I found:

Case 1 of “The Virginia Way of Life Must Be Preserved” Exhibit
filing lawsuits
Image by W&M Libraries
Shown here is an image of Case 1 from the exhibit "The Virginia Way of Life Must Be Preserved", on display in the Nancy Marshall Gallery on the 1st floor of Swem Library at the College of William & Mary. This exhibit is part of "From Fights to Rights: The Long Road to a More Perfect Union," Swem Library’s project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit is on display from June 18-October 22, 2012.

The following is a transcription of the labels presented in this case:

Brown v. Board of Education, 1954:

The students and parents of Farmville’s Moton High School worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in suing the school board of Prince Edward County. The NAACP previously had sought to force school boards to make black schools equal to white ones, but in 1950 it had changed its strategy to try to overturn segregation as unconstitutional. It was involved in cases all over the country, not just in Virginia. The Supreme Court bundled four of the cases, including the Farmville case, together into Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Thurgood Marshall and other NAACP lawyers argued before the Court that segregation violated the “equal protection” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. constitution. Based on tests showing that black children preferred white dolls over black dolls, they also argued that mandatory segregation psychologically damaged children of color, making them internalize feelings of racial inferiority.

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in the Brown case that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Chief Justice Earl Warren, pictured here speaking at William & Mary later that year, worked hard to get a unanimous decision and became the target of white Southerners’ worst venom. In May 1955, in Brown II, the Supreme Court ordered that desegregation proceed “with all deliberate speed” but left supervision of the task to federal district courts.

The photograph of Moton High’s Class of 1956 visibly demonstrates that desegregation did not happen overnight. The school was just as segregated in 1956 as the schools attended by class sponsor Mabel Ragsdale Watson and her sister Laura Ragsdale when they were school girls in Roanoke decades earlier, as seen in Laura’s photo album.

The Gray Commission, 1954-1955:

The Brown decision stunned Virginia’s leaders. At first, they seemed willing to accept the Court’s ruling, but angry newspaper editors and white voters called for resistance. Governor Thomas Stanley then appointed a commission, chaired by State Senator Garland Gray and consisting entirely of white legislators, to determine how to respond. In November 1955, the Gray Commission issued recommendations designed to delay desegregation but allow localities to decide if they would desegregate quickly or not. Among other proposals, the Gray plan recommended giving tuition vouchers so parents could send their children to segregated private schools. The assembly quickly adopted the Gray Commission report in principle. Since the state constitution did not allow public money to be used for private schools, it needed to be amended for tuition vouchers to be possible. A referendum on January 9, 1956 overwhelmingly approved calling a constitutional convention which did just that.

Massive Resistance, 1956-1957:

In response to Brown II, the Arlington County School Board announced in late 1955 that it would gradually integrate. The NAACP helped parents and students file lawsuits to force integration elsewhere in Virginia. Ardent segregationists, fearing that integration anywhere
could lead to integration everywhere, demanded stronger resistance to Brown. Nowhere was resistance greater than among the white population of Southside, the most heavily black region in Virginia. Southside was the heart of the Byrd Organization, the Democratic machine that had run the state since the 1920s under the leadership of U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, pictured here with Republican State Senator Ted Dalton. In February 1956, Byrd proposed a program of “massive resistance” to school integration. Byrd supported the Virginia assembly’s resolution of “interposition” that declared the Brown decision unconstitutional and unenforceable, although this had no actual legal effect. More importantly, in September 1956, the assembly passed a program of massive resistance laws, known as the Stanley Plan after the governor. The plan denied state aid to any locality that allowed desegregation of even one school, authorized the governor to close any school that federal courts ordered integrated, and provided tuition grants to help white parents send their children to segregated private schools if their local public school closed.

School Closings, 1959:

The Stanley Plan met with immediate challenges in federal courts, with cases pending through 1957 and into 1958. As the school year began in the fall of 1958, federal judges ordered previously all-white schools in Warren County, Charlottesville, and Norfolk to integrate. Governor J. Lindsay Almond, Jr. shut the schools down rather than allowing them to integrate. In November, Norfolk voters voted against petitioning the governor to reopen the city schools, even though the closing affected 10,000 white students and seventeen black students. On January 19, 1959, the state supreme court ruled that the closings violated the state constitution’s provision requiring there to be public schools and the federal district court ruled that the closings violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. The courts ordered that the schools be reopened.

Prince Edward County, 1959-1964 and Beyond:

After briefly considering shutting the state’s public schools down entirely, Governor Almond conceded defeat and reluctantly allowed integration to proceed very slowly. The more extreme segregationists denounced Almond as a traitor. The state legislature once again adopted a local-option plan, with tuition grants and a pupil placement program that allowed students to be assigned to schools in ways that minimized “race mixing.” The county government in Prince Edward County, in the heart of Southside, shut down its public school system entirely. Using state tuition grants, many white students attended a new private academy, but other white students and all the students of color were left without formal schooling unless they left the county. The Supreme Court in 1964 ordered Prince Edward to reopen its public schools. At that point, only five percent of African American students statewide attended integrated schools.

In 1968, the Supreme Court invalidated the pupil-placement program and ordered an end to separate white and black school systems in a decision involving New Kent County. And in 1970, a federal judge ordered a busing plan implemented to desegregate Richmond schools. Not until the late 1980s did busing end.

From the Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary. See swem.wm.edu/scrc/ for further information and assistance.

Case 1 of “The Virginia Way of Life Must Be Preserved” Exhibit
filing lawsuits
Image by W&M Libraries
Shown here is an image of Case 1 from the exhibit "The Virginia Way of Life Must Be Preserved", on display in the Nancy Marshall Gallery on the 1st floor of Swem Library at the College of William & Mary. This exhibit is part of "From Fights to Rights: The Long Road to a More Perfect Union," Swem Library’s project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit is on display from June 18-October 22, 2012.

The following is a transcription of the labels presented in this case:

Brown v. Board of Education, 1954:

The students and parents of Farmville’s Moton High School worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in suing the school board of Prince Edward County. The NAACP previously had sought to force school boards to make black schools equal to white ones, but in 1950 it had changed its strategy to try to overturn segregation as unconstitutional. It was involved in cases all over the country, not just in Virginia. The Supreme Court bundled four of the cases, including the Farmville case, together into Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Thurgood Marshall and other NAACP lawyers argued before the Court that segregation violated the “equal protection” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. constitution. Based on tests showing that black children preferred white dolls over black dolls, they also argued that mandatory segregation psychologically damaged children of color, making them internalize feelings of racial inferiority.

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in the Brown case that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Chief Justice Earl Warren, pictured here speaking at William & Mary later that year, worked hard to get a unanimous decision and became the target of white Southerners’ worst venom. In May 1955, in Brown II, the Supreme Court ordered that desegregation proceed “with all deliberate speed” but left supervision of the task to federal district courts.

The photograph of Moton High’s Class of 1956 visibly demonstrates that desegregation did not happen overnight. The school was just as segregated in 1956 as the schools attended by class sponsor Mabel Ragsdale Watson and her sister Laura Ragsdale when they were school girls in Roanoke decades earlier, as seen in Laura’s photo album.

The Gray Commission, 1954-1955:

The Brown decision stunned Virginia’s leaders. At first, they seemed willing to accept the Court’s ruling, but angry newspaper editors and white voters called for resistance. Governor Thomas Stanley then appointed a commission, chaired by State Senator Garland Gray and consisting entirely of white legislators, to determine how to respond. In November 1955, the Gray Commission issued recommendations designed to delay desegregation but allow localities to decide if they would desegregate quickly or not. Among other proposals, the Gray plan recommended giving tuition vouchers so parents could send their children to segregated private schools. The assembly quickly adopted the Gray Commission report in principle. Since the state constitution did not allow public money to be used for private schools, it needed to be amended for tuition vouchers to be possible. A referendum on January 9, 1956 overwhelmingly approved calling a constitutional convention which did just that.

Massive Resistance, 1956-1957:

In response to Brown II, the Arlington County School Board announced in late 1955 that it would gradually integrate. The NAACP helped parents and students file lawsuits to force integration elsewhere in Virginia. Ardent segregationists, fearing that integration anywhere
could lead to integration everywhere, demanded stronger resistance to Brown. Nowhere was resistance greater than among the white population of Southside, the most heavily black region in Virginia. Southside was the heart of the Byrd Organization, the Democratic machine that had run the state since the 1920s under the leadership of U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, pictured here with Republican State Senator Ted Dalton. In February 1956, Byrd proposed a program of “massive resistance” to school integration. Byrd supported the Virginia assembly’s resolution of “interposition” that declared the Brown decision unconstitutional and unenforceable, although this had no actual legal effect. More importantly, in September 1956, the assembly passed a program of massive resistance laws, known as the Stanley Plan after the governor. The plan denied state aid to any locality that allowed desegregation of even one school, authorized the governor to close any school that federal courts ordered integrated, and provided tuition grants to help white parents send their children to segregated private schools if their local public school closed.

School Closings, 1959:

The Stanley Plan met with immediate challenges in federal courts, with cases pending through 1957 and into 1958. As the school year began in the fall of 1958, federal judges ordered previously all-white schools in Warren County, Charlottesville, and Norfolk to integrate. Governor J. Lindsay Almond, Jr. shut the schools down rather than allowing them to integrate. In November, Norfolk voters voted against petitioning the governor to reopen the city schools, even though the closing affected 10,000 white students and seventeen black students. On January 19, 1959, the state supreme court ruled that the closings violated the state constitution’s provision requiring there to be public schools and the federal district court ruled that the closings violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. The courts ordered that the schools be reopened.

Prince Edward County, 1959-1964 and Beyond:

After briefly considering shutting the state’s public schools down entirely, Governor Almond conceded defeat and reluctantly allowed integration to proceed very slowly. The more extreme segregationists denounced Almond as a traitor. The state legislature once again adopted a local-option plan, with tuition grants and a pupil placement program that allowed students to be assigned to schools in ways that minimized “race mixing.” The county government in Prince Edward County, in the heart of Southside, shut down its public school system entirely. Using state tuition grants, many white students attended a new private academy, but other white students and all the students of color were left without formal schooling unless they left the county. The Supreme Court in 1964 ordered Prince Edward to reopen its public schools. At that point, only five percent of African American students statewide attended integrated schools.

In 1968, the Supreme Court invalidated the pupil-placement program and ordered an end to separate white and black school systems in a decision involving New Kent County. And in 1970, a federal judge ordered a busing plan implemented to desegregate Richmond schools. Not until the late 1980s did busing end.

From the Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary. See swem.wm.edu/scrc/ for further information and assistance.

Forest Haven
filing lawsuits
Image by Jack Parrott
FH was a children’s developmental center and mental institution in Laurel, Maryland.

It was notorious for its poor conditions and abuse of patients. It opened its doors in 1925, and was shut down in 1991 by a federal court. There have since been numerous civil and class-action lawsuits involving patients and employees

During the early years, it was considered a state of the art facility. With a good reputation, this hospital set the standard for other states to follow. With declining conditions decades later, many patients filed lawsuits against the hospital for reasons of abuse, neglect, poor living conditions — even medical testing. A small morgue was all that stood between the patients and a cemetery on site where graves had been repeatedly uncovered by erosion.

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