Danville, VA

Danville has a history of racial conflict. Located on the border with North Carolina deep in what is called "Southside" Virginia, Danville was the last capital of the Confederacy at the end of the Civil War. In 1883 a race riot broke out in the streets of Danville when black residents allegedly failed to give way to let a white man pass. A brush of the shoulder, a remark, and the twisted emotions of years of racial hatred launched retribution and bloodshed. Democrats portrayed the scene as evidence of Republican (Readjuster) inspired misconceptions of racial equality. They told white voters that white supremacy was at stake. They carried the polls in November 1883 largely on the message that only a Democratic victory would prevent future Danville-like race riots across Virginia. Danville's economy shifted in the New South and the city became a textile center in the early twentieth century. In 1963 Danville's black leaders organized a series of civil rights protests and the city's racial politics, once again, made front-page news across the state. Danville's violence on June 10, 1963, which included police beatings of protestors, surprised many Virginians and ran counter to the Virginia paternalistic gentility elite whites long favored in Richmond and in county court houses. The city struggled for years afterward with the court battles as litigation continued until the early 1970s.