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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 >>

Almond reinstated the Gray Commission's suggestion for desegregation

Governor Almond bemoaned his speech in support of massive resistance and declared massive resistance dead in the General Assembly. As a result, Senator Byrd severed political ties with Almond. The Assembly reinstated the Gray Commission's findings for local option.

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:
Well, Almond's reaction was, of course, a statewide televised speech on January 20th which he later called, I believe, "that damned speech."
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
That's right.
DANIEL JORDAN:
Could you tell us a little about the speech and why you think that Almond gave it?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
He never has been able to explain it to himself, much less to anybody else. I have talked to him two or three times. In fact, I got the interview with him in which he first used the term, "that damned speech," and said that he was sorry that he had made it. He said that he was tired and frustrated and that if he had talked to Josephine, his wife, he never would have done it. He had just gotten so worn out with the whole thing that he wasn't thinking clearly, I guess. He wanted to show that he was going to do everything that he possibly could to prevent this thing from happening. He didn't realize that he was saying things that would look simply ridiculous ten days later.
DANIEL JORDAN:
It was a very emotional speech, very fir speech and apparently, Senator Byrd was very pleased with the speech.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Oh, he telegraphed him and congratulated him and when Almond tried to repudiate the speech ten days later, that was when Byrd broke with him.
DANIEL JORDAN:
And eight days later, of course, there was a special session of the General Assembly and Almond said in effect that massive resistence was over. He asked for some immediate changes in the laws to comply with the court decisions and appointed a commission, I believe, to investigate the possibilities of Virginia's future course.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
That's right.
DANIEL JORDAN:
Could you tell us a little about the Perrow Commission?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Chairman Perrow was from Lynchburg and you might want to mention the way that they got the thing through the legislature to appoint the commission. The "committee of the whole" device was used so that the whole Senate could vote on it instead of having it voted on in committee, where it would have been killed without a doubt. They had barely enough backers in the Senate overall, and by getting a man who had just been operated on brought in on a stretcher to cast the deciding vote, Carter of Fincastle, they got it through. Almond appointed the commission and the commission made a report which wasn't greatly different from the Gray Commission's original report. So they got back on the track again with local option and so forth.
DANIEL JORDAN:
It was a very tough fight, but in effect, Virginia went back to the Gray Commission.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
That's right and Lindsay Almond deserves a great big hand, despite his fumbling and mistakes along the way, for what he did in the final showdown.