Jack Rathbone

Jack Rathbone was president of the Arlington chapter of the Defenders of State Sovereignty and Individual Liberties. Rathbone's leadership of the Defenders chapter helped make it a vocal force in local elections in Arlington. Because Arlington was the only county in Virginia with elected school boards, the Defenders took an active role in sponsoring candidates and endorsing those who supported segregation in schools. When state legislators considered taking away Arlington's elected school board and returning to an appointive board, Rathbone applauded the move, calling those who supported the elected board "pinko-integrationist." (Washington Post, February 1, 1956) The bill sponsored by Delegate Frank Moncure of Stafford County, sparked heated public debate. Rathbone's daughter, Sue Dickson, was a teacher in the Arlington schools and spoke out publicly in support of the Moncure bill. She argued that teachers were too intimidated to take a stand for segregation and that the PTAs had become "political parties" for promoting integration. Both Rathbone and Dickson, as well as other speakers, contended that Arlington was no longer controlled by "real Virginians." (Washington Post, February 10, 1956) In 1958 Rathbone joined a statewide group to finance private segregated academies, and took the lead in developing several in Arlington. Rathbone touted his "model" school in Arlington, but he would not allow building inspectors from the county in it for fear that county officials were in a conspiracy to close it down. Rathbone's vigorous defense of segregation knew few bounds: he telegrammed President Eisenhower inviting him to his "model" school, he issued public statements regularly, he spoke at public meetings, and he could always be counted on for a comment to the press. In September 1960, however, he fired his shotgun at an Arlington County police car. The police had come to his home in response to his call that it had been vandalized and robbed. His conviction ended his political involvement and revealed a man driven to extreme responses, discrediting him and his associates. (Washington Post, September 9, 1960)