Desegregation's Tortuous Course: Breakthrough in Norfolk
WHEN the Federal and state courts ended Virginia’s “massive resistance” to integration at the end of January, 10,000 Norfolk students, locked out since September, finally went back to school. A great sigh of relief went up in the city. It seemed almost incidental that seventeen Negro students would now be sitting with white students in class, thus making total segregation a thing of the past in Virginia.
Few people in Norfolk expected that there would be violence when the six junior and senior high schools opened on February 2, even though the city had carried out a state policy stopping just short of open defiance of the courts. At the staid old high school named after Commodore Matthew Fontaine Maury, one of Virginia’s favorite sons, a crowd of students, reporters, and parents parted to allow a fifteen-year-old Negro student to enter. A few moments later, the voice of the school’s principal, Rufus Tonelson, was heard over the public address system: “‘We trust that the winter of our dis- content . . . is over.”
About the Author