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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 >>

Whites resisted public criticisms of massive resistance

Lewis Powell Jr., later a Supreme Court justice, had served as Richmond school board chairman from 1952 to 1961. Powell rejected Kilpatrick's insistence on interposition based on its illegality. Even though his condemnation of interposition dampened Kilpatrick's position intellectually, this passage demonstrates whites' aversion to criticizing massive resistance publicly.

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

VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Well, it was an interesting occasion when he did so. There is a group here called the Forum Club, which is let's say, made up largely of the power structure of Richmond, and they meet once a month. Kilpatrick was moderator one month and I was moderator another, we alternated. We would talk about current events. Interposition was running at the forefront of the agenda at that time, Kilpatrick was moderating, and we were talking about interposition. Lewis Powell had been tipped off or urged by somebody in New York over the telephone to make some comments on interposition when he got to the meeting. He didn't have time to prepare anything much; he just thought about it on the way down on the plane and came to the meeting. It was one of the most amazing and astonishingly effective performances. Although he hadn't had time to prepare anything, and he tore interposition to shreds. Just off the top of his head without any notes or preparation. It was really devastating. Kilpatrick was just sitting there looking as sick as could be.
DANIEL JORDAN:
Did anybody challenge Lewis Powell on that occasion? Anybody in the audience or Kilpatrick?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Kilpatrick made a few feeble remarks.