Pride and Prejudice: School Desegregation and Urban Renewal in Norfolk, 1950-1959

By Forrest R. White | Go to book overview
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6
Prelude to Confrontation

Norfolk and especially its established business and political leaders began to harden into a stronghold of Massive Resistance for a number of reasons--in spite of the apparent success of the Mayor's redevelopment program in preventing school desegregation. For several years since the Brown decision, the local chapter of the statewide Massive Resistance support group--the Defenders of State Sovereignty and Individual Liberties--had labored to establish a respected political force that could be counted on to endorse the Byrd Organization when it advanced ardent segregationists, but also to oppose it when it backed more moderate local-option resisters. In spite of its penchant for lost causes, such as support for the Separatist Party candidate for President in 1956, the local Defenders had carved for themselves a minor following among the city's small businessmen, the major component of their statewide effort. In the past it had been pushed dangerously close to the fringe of accepted political behavior, but it had always fought its way back to the core of this small constituency.

The logic of the Defenders' argument was powerfully convincing for most of Norfolk's white citizens: They felt that the Supreme

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