Whites resisted public criticisms of massive resistance
Lewis Powell Jr., later a Supreme Court justice, had served as Richmond school board chairman from 1952 to 1961. Powell rejected Kilpatrick's insistence on interposition based on its illegality. Even though his condemnation of interposition dampened Kilpatrick's position intellectually, this passage demonstrates whites' aversion to criticizing massive resistance publicly.
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
- VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Well, it was an interesting occasion when he did so. There is a group
here called the Forum Club, which is let's say, made up largely of the
power structure of Richmond, and they meet once a month. Kilpatrick was
moderator one month and I was moderator another, we alternated. We would
talk about current events. Interposition was running at the forefront of
the agenda at that time, Kilpatrick was moderating, and we were talking
about interposition. Lewis Powell had been tipped off or urged by
somebody in New York over the telephone to make some comments on
interposition when he got to the meeting. He didn't have time to prepare
anything much; he just thought about it on the way down on the plane and
came to the meeting. It was one of the most amazing and astonishingly
effective performances. Although he hadn't had time to prepare anything,
and he tore interposition to shreds. Just off the top of his head
without any notes or preparation. It was really devastating. Kilpatrick
was just sitting there looking as sick as could be.
- DANIEL JORDAN:
Did anybody challenge Lewis Powell on that occasion? Anybody in the
audience or Kilpatrick?
- VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Kilpatrick made a few feeble remarks.