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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Virginians latched onto interposition rather than Byrd's massive resistance

Rather than bolstering the support of most moderate Virginians, Byrd's insistence on massive resistance alienated them. However, interposition did offer other pro-segregation southerners hope of defying the Supreme Court order.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DANIEL JORDAN:
What about the impact of massive resistance on the Byrd organization?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
I think it was a divisive factor. I think that it put off a lot of the moderates who didn't think that was the way to go, and instead of consolidating the organization's hold on the state for twenty-five years, it had exactly the opposite effect.
DANIEL JORDAN:
Benjamin Muse suggests that one of the tragic aspects of massive resistance is that it encouraged the actions of other southern states. He felt that people looked to Virginia and that there was a pull for moderation and the fact that Virginia chose to go the route of massive resistance, in fact, made things much worse elsewhere. Is that exaggerated?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
No, I don't think it is, and I think interposition was the crux of it. These people were sold on the idea that this was manna from heaven; they were all sitting around waiting for someone to tell them how to beat this thing, and here came interposition, which they had never heard of and it sounded great.