So Sorry, So Sorry


unny what a difference a half a century makes.

Here it is, 50 years after Virginia’s racist “Massive Resistance” policy against court-ordered integration came to an end. Commemorating it will be a conference tomorrow at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. A time of reckoning and reconciliation is in the air. What is truly maddening, however, is how some of the same institutions that cheered, if not framed, the horrible policy are making limp-wristed and marketing-minded “apologies” about treating African-Americans so unfairly.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown vs. Topeka decision declared legislated segregation of schools unconstitutional, setting off shock waves throughout much of the South and the Border States. Some states such as North Carolina went ahead and more or less followed the letter of the law. Deep South Alabama and Mississippi saw a huge leap in violence and Ku Klux Klan activity.
In the genteel Old Dominion, white sheets and bull whips are frowned upon. So, the ruling white elite did the “gentlemanly” thing. Pushed by such political luminaries as Harry F. Byrd and his machine, a cabal of politicians, lawyers, bankers and businessmen decided a formal policy of “massively” resisting federal law and created committees, review commissions and various other bodies to enforce segregation and keep Blacks out of public schools.
Some school districts such as Prince Edward County simply shut down rather than admit blacks. Blacks students ended up being taught in homes or being sent to places like Sweden, earning Virginia a great reputation as a champion of human rights , you know “Mother of Presidents” and all that malarkey.
The arguments for Massive Resistance were framed in high brow style by the town’s newspapers, the Richmond News-Leader and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The likes of James Kilpatrick, later a TV star on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” played bizarre argument games with words such as “interposition” which is a fancy way of saying that states don’t have to follow the U.S. Constitution if they don’t feel like it.
One of the sorriest histories is that of Virginius Dabney, the esteemed and literate editorial writer of the TD. Dabney was considered progressive on many matters and had a national reputation. But he was under the thumb of the Bryan family that owned the newspapers and was forced to do their evil bidding. According to “The Race Beat” a history of Southern journalism in the civil rights era, authors Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff note that whenever the Bryans wanted to serve up another editorial boosting Massive Resistance, Dabney would recuse himself and let some ad salesman do it.
One can’t exactly say that is the brave act of a great man. After all, The Virginian-Pilot opposed Massive Resistance editorially and won a Pulitzer for it. Dabney should have told the Bryans to stuff it and quit.
That is why the TD’s editorial today “apologizing” for its past behavior is downright creepy. “The hour is ignoble” the editorial says. “The Times-Dispatch was complicit. The record fills us with regret, which we have expressed before.”
So sorry. So sorry. Gee, but it would be insane not to backpedal from the policy especially since the U.S. president is half African-American and Blacks have made tremendous progress despite lingering racism. What’s more, the TD’s editorial has the smell of marketing. Having lost significant circulation, the paper needs African-American readers to sustain it, if not make it survive. So, 50 years after the fact, we get this lame apology.
Margaret Edds, a former Pilot political correspondent and editorial writer, nails it. Writing in Stlye Weekly, she notes that the entire Virginia leadership structure was complicit, especially the legal community.
Today, African-American lawyers such as Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson Jr. win all sorts of accolades from mostly white legal societies for pushing civil rights in court. It was an incredibly gutsy thing to do at the time and the threats weren’t just shotgun blasts or burning crosses. The General Assembly passed laws targeting fund raising by the NAACP which paid for the lawsuits that won integration. The Virginia Supreme Court went after the Black lawyers on “ethical” grounds, as if supporting the U.S. Constitution and a Supreme Court ruling was somehow “unethical” by precious “Virginia”standards.
With this in mind, one can understand why years later some African-American Richmonders opposed putting tennis great Arthur Ashe’s statue on Monument Avenue nearby Stonewall, J.E.B. and Robert E. and the rest of the Glorious Boys in Grey. Why not honor Ashe by keeping his statue in the segregated Northside neighborhood where he grew up and was welcome, and not on Monument Avenue where he was not welcome.
They may well have a point. Meanwhile, spare us the tepid apologies and the crocodile tears.
Peter Galuszka

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


23 responses to “So Sorry, So Sorry”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    We still have socio-economic segregation in our communities.

    It is called large lot zoning.

    If you cannot afford the cost of 1 or 2 acres in Vienna, Great Falls, McLean, or 5 acres in Clifton, you are probably a minority.

    Oh well.

    Too bad because government isn't discriminating against black, it's promoting green – or so they claim.

    Zoning Apartheid is alive and well in the Old Dominion.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    7:37's comment is as ignorant as the TD's ancient editorials supporting massive resistence.

    Most of the lots in McLean and Vienna are well below 1 acre in size. Are there some large lots? Sure, but there are more smaller lots than larger ones. Have you ever looked at the county zoning maps? Plain ignorant stupidity.


  3. Groveton Avatar

    "If you cannot afford the cost of 1 or 2 acres in Vienna, Great Falls, McLean, or 5 acres in Clifton, you are probably a minority.".

    Twisted Sister never wrote song lyrics so bizarre. Let's see if we can debug this bit of illogic.

    "If you cannot afford …" One assumes that this confused sub-clause is meant to imply that you have to be quite rich to afford one of these properties. Next, we proceed to the "not logic". If you cannot afford these properties you must be among the large percentage of Americans who are "not rich". Given the relative cost of properties in these locales it is logical to assume that only the rich can afford expensive properties.

    "…you are probably a minority". Here comes the trip through La La Land. If you are not among those wealthy enough to afford expensive properties, you are "probably a minority". What percentage of Americans can afford the expensive properties defined in the post? 10% That would make the other 90% "probably minorities". More troubling is the assumption that minorities cannot afford to live in Vienna, McLean, Clifton or Great Falls. That is racist. My street in Great Falls has 13 houses. Only four are occupied by couples where both husband and wife are of European descent. There are people of Arab, Persian, Asian and African descent. I guess nobody told them that only whitey was allowed to have enough money to buy these properties.

    You want to see apartheid in the Old Dominion?

    Wise County – The racial makeup of the county was 96.88% White, 1.78% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.26% from other races, and 0.61% from two or more races. 0.73% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

    Lee County – As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 23,589 people, 9,706 households, and 6,852 families residing in the county. The population density was 54 people per square mile (21/km²). There were 11,086 housing units at an average density of 25 per square mile (10/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 98.44% White, 0.44% Black or African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.08% from other races, and 0.64% from two or more races. 0.51% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

    Now, for example:

    Vienna, Virginia – The racial makeup of the town was 81.10% White, 3.44% African American, 0.19% Native American, 9.47% Asian, 2.71% from other races, and 3.09% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.39% of the population.

    McLean, Virginia – The racial makeup of the CDP was 84.56% White, 1.58% African American, 0.10% Native American, 10.61% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.69% from other races, and 2.44% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.02% of the population.

    So, let's review your argument:

    1. Grammatically challenged
    2. Inherently illogical
    3. Contradicted by "easy to find" facts

    That level of intellectual poverty is hard to accomplish in six sentences. Especially, when one of the sentences is "Oh well.".

  4. Larry G Avatar

    Bravo Groveton!

    the scary thing is that we do have a lot of folks who vote – who cannot understand the distinctions you make.

    Using anon's logic – those who cannot afford a Hummer are "discriminated" against and even though there are hundreds who don't own Hummers compared to the folks that do – the hundreds are called a "minority".

    As to Massive Resistance – I also hold in low repute the folks who knew this was happening but stood by and did nothing.

    It took years of advocacy on the part of just a few who were willing to stand up for what was right – to push it back and even then those with hatred in their hearts fought to enforce it and when they lost, instead of proclaiming that they lost the "good, righteous fight, they slunk off to the shaddows" where today most of them don't fess up.

    I'd like to see the RTD name names of those who led the fight FOR Massive Resistance – that would be true accountability in my view.

  5. Groveton Avatar

    In fairness to anon 7:37, Virginia is an unusual place. Many of the poorest places are among the "whitest" places. Particularly in Northern Virginia, there are many wealthy people who are not of European ancestry. I don't know whether these trends are being repeated across the US or are a Virginia-specific point.

    I also wonder about the value of the designation "minority". Statistically, Asian Americans are a minority group. However, particularly in NoVa, Asian Americans seem to be well represented among the top wage earners. For example, 13% of Fairfax County's population is categorized as "Asian". However, 36% of the students in the most recent freshman class at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (rated the best public high school in the US) are of Asian ancestry. Meanwhile, in a recent year, 6.2% of the admitted students were African-American or Hispanic. About 19% of Fairfax County's population is African-American or Hispanic (and about 25% of school aged children). So, where does all of this leave us with respect to minorities and the elite education provided free-of-charge by TJHHST? Kind of confused, in my opinion. We are confused because "minority" harkens back to a time when there were "whites" and "minorities". Today's situation requires a more sophisticated lens for examining society.

  6. Groveton Avatar

    As for Massive Resistance – a disgrace. Should we hold Virginius Dabney responsible for editorials in the RTD that supported that wicked scheme? Maybe. He didn't write the editorials but he didn't (apparently) fight them either. He wrote editorials against the Klan, he wrote editorials against the Byrd Machine. Massive Resistance, on the other hand, was too well ingrained into Virginia society for even a liberal thinker like Virginius Dabney to battle. I am confident he opposed the plan (based on his other writings) but I am equally convinced that he lacked the conviction to take on the status quo in Richmond.

    Harry F Byrd is another matter altogether. He was one of the architects of Massive Resistance and one of its strongest supporters. Why are buildings and roads in Virginia still named after this shameful racist? It's time for Virginia to stop celebrating this corrupt miscreant.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton – let me add my kudos to those of Larry. Fairfax County and Virginia are far from perfect places, but pretending that only white people can and do succeed here is not only flat-_ss wrong, but insulting to everyone who lives here.


  8. Groveton Avatar

    Say Larry …

    Here is an article about privatizing Virginia's rest stops. I know you don't like privatization in general but don't you think private rest stops are better than closed rest stops? This is the first little bitty case in what I think will be an avalanche of things. Remember when Mark "if my lips are moving then I'm lying" Warner closed the DMV locations? Now Kaine-sper The Friendly Ghost is closing the rest stops. I guess those charter jets he flies around the country while doing DNC business as the sitting governor have rest rooms on them.

    Do Virginia a favor – vote McDonnell.

  9. Larry G Avatar

    I'm in favor of privatizing the rest stops.

    The state is "saving" 9 million annually and has 40 million total visitors.

    they did not disclose how many visitors at the ones they are closing so we could get a head-count cost…

    I'm actually in favor of privatization for just about anything of which there is a demand and that would include the rest areas.

    To put it another way, I'd rather have privatized rest areas that stay open rather than rest areas that close during lean times.

    but the R's in Va are truly feckless when it comes to supporting these principles.

    their usual approach is to hammer the agency… seek "to eliminate waste and abuse" yadda yadda yadda.. but when push comes to shove they do something like Gilmore did….

    rather than stand firm and face the issues….

    My judgment of a Gov is , first, he/she did no harm…

    so far.. Kaine is mediocre..but has not done major harm… unlike Allen and Gilmore who both wreaked havoc on State Gov in my view.

  10. Groveton Avatar

    I think Warner did more long term hard than Gilmore and Allen combined. Allen was just a buffoon. Gilmore was actually a net positive in my book.

  11. "To put it another way, I'd rather have privatized rest areas that stay open rather than rest areas that close during lean times."

    Be careful what you wish for.

    A)What's to prevent a private company from shutting them down if they aren't making a profit.

    B)What's there to privatize at rest stops in the first place, i.e., how can you make money running them?

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Mark Warner, while fibbing on taxes like every other Democrat since Walter Mondale, did make some very positive improvements in the operation of Virginia's government. He made some agency consolidations and job cuts.

    I've also been impressed by Warner's early performance in the Senate so far. His office responds to communications and he seems to be asking hard questions about programs and proposals. Regardless of party, Virginia needs some independent thinkers. Webb's office, on the other hand, is not very responsive to constituent inquiries. And now that he no longer has Bush to piss and moan about, what's old Jim Webb been doing? — not much!!!

    I will always like Tim Kaine's stand to make the first link between land use and transportation. The Chapter 527 traffic study requirements that are hated by builders are being used as intended and not as a joke. Kaine deserves kudos for that action.

    But Kaine has generally failed otherwise. He permitted Mark Warner's job cuts to be undone. He's proposed major increases in spending and in new programs despite warning signs that the economy was in trouble. What's the difference between that and Jim Gilmore's final year push to implement another step in the car tax cut? Nothing.

    Kaine also backed down from tougher land use restrictions in favor of fleecing the taxpayers so that the Commonwealth Transportation Board can allocate more funds to their favorite developers' plans. He should have had the courage to insist on an adequate public facilities law. He also was not very good at working with the opposition the way Mark Warner did.

    On the whole, I'd give him a C- as a governor. And that's coming from a AAA+++ on Chapter 527.

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Sorry 12:10 was me — TMT.. It's been at least six months since I forgot to add my initials.


  14. Larry G Avatar

    re: "what's there to privatize?"

    selling "stuff" like they do at many of the turnpike plazas north of Va….

    I don't mind a bit buying something at a service station/convenience store when I use their bathroom… and that would be just fine if they operated a rest stop and did the same.

    Those of us who are concerned about taxes, raising taxes.. etc.. should welcome efforts to remove from using taxes – those things that can be privatized.


  15. Larry G Avatar


    wanna read something scary? :

  16. Larry G Avatar

    re: Kaine and developers and APF and VDOT traffic studies…

    Name a Republican past or present or R candidate that would have or will take a run at these issues…, transportation, "developer pays", etc.

    … just keeping you honest…

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry — Developer worship is the state religion, practiced by both Republicans and Democrats alike. I think Kaine won election because he hinted that he didn't always go to "church." But, despite a great effort and result on Chapter 527, Tim soon found himself back in the fold.

    I have no hope that either Deeds or McDonnell will form a break-away sect.


  18. Larry G Avatar

    Perhaps TMT – but I don't ever see any R's suggesting, much less implementing stuff like requiring traffic studies.

    and remember Kaine.. has also support UDA – Urban Development Areas – which require localities to designate density AND to figure out how to provide the infrastructure also.

    these things are .. seemingly small in substance but over time will have significant impacts in the way that we approach growth…

    just the idea that we will now take a harder look at traffic and it's consequences and what it will take to properly mitigate it – is a major step forward for Va in my view.

    My view of McDonnell is that he will toe the hard-right philosophical dogma ..more than we will work for a more progressive approach to govt and development.

    My confidence in R's in general and in Va is that they really are not "into" …."governing" but more so into imposing their philosophy on whoever would be dumb enough to vote for them…thinking that they would actually "govern".

    I'm not saying the D's are a bed of roses either but I just think there is more opportunity to get 'some' things done.. depending…..

    the hard-right types.. in a prior world.. were the ones who were and would-be complicit in Massive Resistance…. if they could still get away with it…

    they still speak in "code" about these kinds of issues…in my view…

  19. Here, here, Gouda. Great post!

  20. Anonymous Avatar

    All I can tell you is that the rest stops in Iowa are positively gorgeous: a little walking trail where you can actually stretch your legs, a picnic area – removed from the toilets and the dog walking area. State run, clean, and apparently safe.

    In Illinois, the rest stops are OK but not as nice as Iowa and in Indiana they are concessions, which are dumps. Then in Ohio they are simply nonexistent: free enterprise at its best.

    Virginia can afford to have decent rest stops, and grandstanding for the right to privatize them is a stupid mistake.

    If we really can't afford to have toilets, then there is a lot of other stuff we could cut out first.

    Also, the rest stop on 66 is used as a staging area for trucks. many businesses won't accept trucks to unload until after 10:00. Truckers don;t want to wade through rush hour in any case, so they stack up at the rest stop in the morning waiting for their unloading appointments.

    Now, this is an activity that cries out for privatization, but how do you get a truck stop approved anywhere near route 66 in Fairfax? I can just imagine the traffic study on that one.

    Which points out the problem with the (always negative) link between land use and transportation. We as a state cannot even afford toilets, yet we as individuals think that the small subset of the state which consists of builders and developers can afford to pay for these things for us.

    Sure, we can put the whole transportation burden on land developers, and then we can sit back and watch while nothing happens. Our transportation system will be like the privately provided toilets on the interstate in Ohio — nonexistent.


  21. Anonymous Avatar

    How does Gate's arrest figure in this discussion?


  22. kelley in virginia Avatar
    kelley in virginia

    back to how mark warner is such a great Senator: he voted for the stimulus bill which is "saving the economy" (according to the President). how many people really believe that? not a plurality according to the polls. after that particular vote, i saw Mark Warner (televised live on CSPAN), hug Chuckie Schumer.

    Chuck Schumer is the same guy who said people didn't care about pork.

    these peoples' ideas should be incompatible with the views of all Americans, but especially with Virginians who i think are the most special populace in the world.

  23. Anonymous Avatar

    "how many people really believe that? not a plurality according to the polls. "

    Well, relative to GDP, China had a bigger stimulus than we did and Europe had a smaller one.

    China's economy grew 7.5% last quarter, ours shows some sign of coming out of the slump, and Europe is still stuck in the mud.

    What people believe has very little to do with what the data shows.


Leave a Reply