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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 >>

Newspapers were influenced heavily by the Byrd machine

Virginia's state capital newspapers, the <cite>Richmond Times-Dispatch</cite> and the <cite>Richmond News Leader</cite>, had a more powerful influence on the public's reaction to school desegregation than other regional papers. Dabney argues that the papers' influence grew out of their adherence to the will of the Byrd machine.

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:
I talked to Judge Eggleston some time ago and asked him if he could evaluate the influence of newspapers, specifically the Virginian-Pilot, which was arguing against closing schools prior to the school closing. He said that he thought the influence of the Virginian-Pilot was negligible and that the influence of the Times-Dispatch and the News Leader, because of their position in the capital and their statewide circulation, was immense. The influence of these two newspapers had a great deal to do with the success that massive resistance had. Do you think this is a fair evaluation of the influence of these two newspapers?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Well, insofar as what happened is concerned, I would say that the Virginian-Pilot didn't have as much influence as ours because it couldn't change anything that was going on. The Richmond papers were going along either actively or passively with the prevailing view of the Byrd organization. Whether their influence brought about what happened or whether they just went along with it, I don't know. But I do think the News Leader had a great deal of influence. Much more than we did, because we were sort of wishy-washy and didn't say much one way or the other. I wanted to go one way and Bryan wanted to go along with Kilpatrick, so we just stayed pretty much in the middle, but the News-Leader was way out in front all the time.