1959 Almond Address and the Commission on Education

  • Date: January 28, 1959
  • Creator: J. Lindsay Almond
  • Archive: Senate Document No. 1, Extra Session 1959, House and Senate Documents, 1959, Commonwealth of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia

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In late January of 1959, Almond called an extra session of the General Assembly to address the school desegregation issue. Federal and state courts had struck down the massive resistance laws and after first pledging to fight them Almond had conceded that some integration in Virginia was inevitable. Almond suggested that Virginia and by extension its governor had fought valiantly against "overriding" power. Virginia was "encompassed by the iron will or arrogated power, buffetted upon the storms of an uneven contest, pierced with the daggers of political expediency, and battered by the unholy alliance to destroy the Constitution." Almond, however, could find no way to resist the federal courts, to as he put it "find the way through the dark maze of judicial aberration and constitutional exploitation." Almond turned to more subtle methods of resistance to integration and plainly said so. Tuition grants could be justified on the grounds that they be provided to student who would be better instructed if they attended another school, with no mention of race. Almond encouraged the continued support of the private school network, as the "consequent confusion of a transition which may invoke conditions justifying its termination would be productive of incalculable harm." In his conclusion, Almond stated that the extra session was called, not as a concession to pro-segregationists, but because he felt it necessary in order to begin taking steps to ensure the preservation of the Virginia public school system.