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James J. Kilpatrick The Changing Views of a Southern Newspaper Editor on School Desegregation

Spees, Lisa Patterson (2009)
Master's Thesis (72 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Crespino, Joseph
Committee Members: Siddle Walker, Vanessa ; Lewis, Earl (Provost);
Research Fields: History, United States; History, Black; History, Modern
Keywords: school desegregation; civil rights ; Kilpatrick; massive resistance
Program: College Honors Program, History
Permanent url:


James J. Kilpatrick
The Changing Views of a Southern Newspaper Editor on School Desegregation
By Lisa Spees
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

Table of Contents



Kilpatrick Before Becoming the Richmond News Leader Editor


Massive Resistance


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





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