Massive Resistance is a set of laws that were passed in 1956 and were put in place to prevent integration in schools. These laws were declared by U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. and he named his laws the “Southern Manifesto”.

Photo Courtesy: Encyclopedia Virginia

According to “The Virginia Law Review Association these set of laws were called the “Byrd machine” and they stated that his policies were dangerous. This leads to Governor Thomas B. Stanley making a commisioned study group to study the impact that Brown v. Board had on Virginia’s laws on education. The result of him making this study group came to the conclusion, “[t]hat no child be required to attend an integrated school” and “[t]hat local school boards be authorized to expend funds designed for public school purposes” to send (white) children to (segregated) private schools”, (1123). This is what then turned in to Massive Resistance. It is said that if any school in Virginia that attempted to integrate would have to close and white students would be given funds to attend private schools that were segregated. To make matters worse, the 1902 Constitution allowed radical white supremacy to overtake the public school system in Virginia. This was just the beginning…

All of this lead to statewide school closures but that plan was soon overturned in 1959. Schools were order to have their schools integrated but Prince Edward County stepped up to the plate and keeping their school closed for the next five years. Prince Edward County had hoped that by them doing this, surrounding areas would do the same. This of course left many students without an education setting them behind in many different ways. While these schools were closed not only in Prince William County, but in Front Royal, Charlottsville, and Norfolk as well, the stepped in and overturned the policy that Bryd has put in place.

Eventually, Massive Resistance came to an end and the desegregation of public schools was allowed to happen. Part of the reason for it ending is, “less because of changing opinions on race than because increasing numbers of middle-class whites began to realize the economic cost of an unstable school system and advocate for the restoration of public schools” (1125).

Massive Resistance had left its negative imprint on Virginia’s education system even in to the twentieth century, but is no longer a problem to date.

Photo Courtesy: Encyclopedia Virginia

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