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ODU Libraries Online Exhibitions

1955

February, 1955

  • The Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation, an interracial organization formed in 1945 to address concerns with education, health, and housing among the African-American community, held a meeting to educate Norfolk about desegregation. 400-500 people attended the meeting.

April 16, 1955

  • Lieutenant Governor A.E.S. Stephens advocates a rational approach to integration in a speech at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in Fairfax County:
Regardless of how violently we as a people, or as individuals, may have reacted to this decision, the fact remains that our court of last resort has spoken and we must each and every one of us give prayerful consideration to determining what is the right and proper thing to do under the circumstances. This is not a political question, and to approach it on any such basis should visit upon the heads of the offending parties mortal shame, for should an attempted solution be dominated by political consideration it could lead to a catastrophe of stupendous proportions.  We must, I insist, put aside, insofar as is humanly possible, all bitterness, passion, prejudice, hate and similar emotions that tend only to distort our thinking. (pg. 6, Speech)

May 31, 1955

  • The United States Supreme Court, in Brown II, places responsibility for implementation of Brown v. Board with district courts; calls for public school desegregation "with all deliberate speed." News item.
  • In Norfolk, the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA) under the direction of Mayor Duckworth works to rezone neighborhoods and keep black and white citizens separate.
    • Examples are Norfolk General Hospital which separated Ghent from black neighborhoods; Old Dominion University separated Lambert's Point from Larchmont and Edgewater.
  • Schools are torn down and reconstructed in the segregated neighborhoods.

July 1, 1955

  • Norfolk School Board issues a resolution to "uphold and abide by the laws of the land" and to "pledge our efforts" to continue the Public School System.

July 14, 1955

  • 233 Negro citizens sign petition to Norfolk School Board asking for "good faith compliance" with the Supreme Court decision "at the earliest practicable date" to reorganize schools along non-racial lines. (See School Board of the City of Norfolk v. Beckett, et al for information about the petition and results.)

November 11, 1955

  • Report submitted to Governor Stanley from the Commission on Public Education: "The Commission believes that separate facilities in our public schools are in the best interest of both races, educationally and otherwise, and that compulsory integration should be resisted by all proper means in our power." The "Gray Plan" is introduced and devise to prevent integration:
    • It recommended a "pupil assignment plan" that authorized school boards to assign students to schools.
    • It recommended that tuition grants be given to parents whose children attended private or parochial schools to avoid desegregation -- "tuition grant plan."
    • It created an amendment to compulsory attendance laws - suspended them in schools that were desegregated.
    • It offered desegregation as a state or local option.