Social Studies - 2018-19

VS.9c - Desegregation & Massive Resistance

The student will demonstrate an understanding of Virginia during the twentieth century and beyond by

c) describing the social and political events in Virginia linked to desegregation and Massive Resistance and their relationship to national history.

Adopted: 2015


  • People are cruel to other people for many different reasons. (Man's inhumanity to man.)
  • Prejudice is an unfair feeling of dislike for a person or group because of race, sex, religion, etc. It is not based on any logical reason.
  • Power can cause a person or group to act unfairly to others.
  • Prejudice can be carried out by laws or just in the way people act toward one another.


After World War II, African Americans demanded equal treatment and the recognition of their rights as American citizens.

As a result of the Civil Rights Movement, laws were passed that made racial discrimination illegal.


Terms to know

  • segregation: The separation of people, usually based on race or religion
  • desegregation: Legal end of racial segregation
  • integration: Full equality of people of all races in the use of public facilities and services

Desegregation and Massive Resistance in Virginia

  • Barbara Johns, a 16-year-old high school junior in Farmville, Virginia, led a student strike against segregation in 1951. The case that resulted, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward, became of one of the five cases reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court when it declared segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 that “separate but equal” public schools were unconstitutional.
  • All public schools, including those in Virginia, were ordered to desegregate.
  • Virginia’s government established a policy of Massive Resistance, which fought to resist the desegregation of public schools.
  • Some schools were closed to avoid desegregation.
  • The policy of Massive Resistance failed, and Virginia’s public schools were finally integrated.
  • Harry F. Byrd, Sr., led the Massive Resistance movement against the desegregation of public schools.


Updated: May 18, 2018