A. Linwood Holton, Jr.

Linwood Holton was a Roanoke attorney and with law partner Caldwell Butler worked to revitalize the Republican Party in Virginia in the sixties. Born in Big Stone Gap September 21, 1923, Holton went to Washington and Lee University and was graduated from Harvard Law School in 1949. Holton was nominated at age 41 as the Republican candidate for governor in 1965. He lost the race to Democrat and Byrd Organization leader Mills Godwin, despite an all-out Republican effort to characterize Godwin as a "school closer" and a man stuck in the past. Four years later after considerable Republican Party grass roots organizing, Holton ran again in 1969 against William Battle. Holton positioned himself as a moderate and gained AFL-CIO and the Crusade for Voters (a prominent black voting rights organization) endorsements. Holton's inaugural speech called for an end to racial discrimination in Virginia. The Holtons' highly publicized decision to send their daughter to an all-black city public school (John F. Kennedy High School) and to walk with her to school on the first day was considered a landmark gesture that moved Virginia distinctly away from the era of massive resistance. It also stood in sharp symbolic contrast to George Wallace and other southern governors who had literally stood in the school door to block integration. Holton, moreover, refused to contest court-ordered busing in 1970 despite considerable pressure from Virginia conservatives.