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WDBJ September Showdown Interview with Arlington County, Dr. Stahl
(WDBJ Television, Roanoke, VA)

The Arlington County School Board met with Governor J. Lindsay Almond and expressed its determination to maintain open, public schools even if that meant integration. Arlington County was one of the first Virginia school systems to receive a federal district court order requiring the admission of black students to several white schools. As a result the county school board faced the possibility of school closings under the massive resistance laws passed in 1956. Governor Almond stated clearly that the state's no integration laws would be enforced. Stahl, president of the Arlington Committee, was interviewed after the board met with Governor Almond. Stahl reported that the Governor could give no assurances that schools would not be closed or that he would allow localities to petition to run the schools independently of the state. According to Stahl, the county board did not represent an "integrationist" perspective and included some segregationists; however, he argued that the board was committed to open public schools. Stahl considered the public's support for open schools in Arlington, even if it meant token integration, "overwhelming." Petitions, polls, county board votes, and other indicators showed almost uniform and unanimous support for open public schools regardless of integration. But Stahl cautioned that a significant proportion of those who wanted open schools also would prefer "to leave things where they are"--segregated. In April 1958, a group of civic, education, and religious leaders created the Arlington Committee to Preserve Public Schools. According to Stahl, chairman of the committee, "We're not carrying the torch for segregation or integration--just for public education." The committee lobbied state and local officials to support keeping Arlington schools open.
About the film
  • Date: July 13, 1958
  • Sound: Yes
  • Duration: 03:50
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