James J. Kilpatrick The Changing Views of a Southern NewspaperEditor on School Desegregation Open Access

Spees, Lisa Patterson (2009)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/n296wz854?locale=en


During the civil rights era, James Jackson Kilpatrick, the editor of the Richmond News Leader, wrote America`s most widely syndicated column, A Conservative View. Kilpatrick was known as Southern journalism`s most articulate spokesman for segregation. After the Supreme Court decision in Brown in 1954, in which the Court ordered schools to desegregate, Kilpatrick became an integral part of the South`s movement of massive resistance. Massive resistance was a policy under which Southern politicians attempted to prevent school desegregation. In promoting resistance through an editorial campaign, Kilpatrick argued that blacks were inherently inferior to whites and also focused on the constitutionality of court-ordered school desegregation. For example, he formulated a political argument against Brown by reviving the doctrine of interposition which allowed a state to interpose` its sovereignty in those grave and extraordinary cases when the Federal government oversteps its constituted authority.`

As Kilpatrick gained a national profile and as the growing national consensus turned against Jim Crow racism, Kilpatrick underwent an awkward and uneven change in his racial views. From the Brown decision in 1954, through massive resistance and segregation academies, and up until the years of racial busing and affirmative action, Kilpatrick`s political and social arguments against school desegregation transformed. Once a leader of the massive resistance movement in Virginia, Kilpatrick later renounced his racist beliefs and affirmed his new color-blind conservative ideology.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Kilpatrick Before Becoming the Richmond News Leader Editor 6

Massive Resistance 8

Kilpatrick`s Views on Tuition Grants and Busing (1968-1975) 46

Conclusion 57

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