Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Alfred H. Kelly

Second Advisor

Richard D. Miles

Third Advisor

Forrest M. Donald


This dissertation is an examination of the struggle to desegregate the public schools of Virginia from 1954 to 1972. The Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education attacked the social foundation of eleven southern states when it declared that racially segregated schools were "inherently unequal." Brown I,, in fact, was one of many controversial decisions made by the Supreme Court as it reflected the egalitarian spirit of the 1950's and 1960's. By 1970, however, a growing list of legal scholars questioned the wisdom and effectivemess of the Warren Court's judicial activism. My major objective was to trace the tortuous path of the school cases in one southern state in order to determine the most significant forces in slowing or advancing the implementation of the Brown decision. In addition to examining the politics of school deseg­regation, I investigated the roles of the federal and state courts in interpreting Brown I as well as the performance of Virginia's Negro leadership in pressing for school integra­tion. My dissertation supports the thesis that the Supreme Court's ability to oversee a social revolution, without the full support of Congress and the President, is limited and sometimes counter-productive.


The original dissertation was submitted to the Department of History in two volumes. These have been concatenated here.