Thomas B. Stanley

Thomas B. Stanley was elected Governor of Virginia in 1953 after serving as Speaker of the House of Delegates and a U. S. Congressman. Born in Henry County, Virginia, Stanley had close ties to the Byrd Organization, and Byrd's vigorous campaigning for Stanley in the governor's race helped secure his victory over Republican challenger Ted Dalton. When the Brown v. Board of Education decision was announced in May 1954 Stanley reacted by saying calm, cool heads would prevail. His measured response gradually shifted over time. At first he suggested a biracial commission but when he named the Commission on Public Education its members were all-white and dominated by Southside legislators. Stanley at first endorsed the findings of the Gray Commission and gave indications he would approve its local-option approach. By July 1956 Stanley promoted outright defiance to the Court's decision. "There shall be no mixing of the races in the public schools anywhere in Virginia," he declared. Stanley referred to a "crystallization of sentiment" for continued segregation and moved to call for a special session of the legislature to take up the matter. The special session met in August 1956 and enacted many of the Gray Commission proposals. It also enacted state school closing laws and a statewide pupil placement plan. Stanley died in Martinsville July 10, 1970.