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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 >>

Gradual school integration would give Virginians time to adapt

Dabney favored obeying federal law but supported gradual integration rather than immediate tactics to give Virginians time to adjust to racial change. This theme of rapid racial change recurs throughout the interview.

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

WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
How about on the Gray Commission? What was your editorial, your official position, what were your feelings on the Gray Commission report?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
I thought that was what should be done, to move into the new era gradually and not suddenly and give people time to adjust to it.
WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
O.K., I meant specifically on the appointment of the Gray Commission, that is, all members of the General Assembly as opposed to a bi-racial group of citizens.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Well, I know that we were very much against Stanley's exclusion of blacks from everything, and we said so. He agreed to include them and it was an inclusion that was meaningless. I thought that the Commission was stacked with southsiders.
WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
Were you aware at the time that his only conference with blacks was to call four or five of them in and ask them to disregard the Supreme Court decision?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
I think I was. I can't remember exactly when I was aware of that.
WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
O.K., any point during this chronology where you began to get pressure from the management to do something that you didn't believe in, I wish you would tell us. The Virginia Council on Human Relations, did you have any personal involvement with them?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
No, I did not.
WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
You had been quite active in prior interracial groups.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
That's right.
WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
Was there any pressure or any request to join or requests that you not join?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
I don't think that it came up at all.
WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
How about the 1955 decision? Was this pretty much the way that you felt about the '54 decision, a leisurely pace that . . .
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
That was the "all deliberate speed" decision.
WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
Yes.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Yes, I thought that presented a reasonable amount of leeway and practicability in the thing.