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January 9, 1956

  • Virginians vote in Referendum to adopt the Gray Plan Amendment which would permit grants to pupils for private schooling to avoid desegregation.

February 24, 1956

  • Senator Byrd coins the term "Massive Resistance," a campaign of new state laws and policies to prevent public school desegregation.

March 12, 1956

  • The "Southern Manifesto," signed by 101 southern politicians, is introduced to condemn the Supreme Court encroaching on states' rights.

May 10, 1956

  • NAACP files a lawsuit to end segregation in Norfolk, the first such suit in South Hampton Roads: Leola Pearl Beckett et al. v. the School Board of the City of Norfolk (see Summons filed on May 11, 1956). This case was continued and appealed over several years during the struggle for desegregation. Lawyers for Beckett included Victor J. Ashe, J. Hugo Madison, Joseph A. Jordan, Jr.
  • Other lawsuits were filed in Arlington, Newport News, and Charlottesville.

May 11, 1956

  • Montgomery, Alabama court hears bus segregation case resulting from action of Rosa Parks.

May 12, 1956

  • Norfolk School Board asks the Governor to convene the General Assembly to consider problems arising out of the Brown v. Board decision. (see Resolution)

August 27, 1956

  • Governor Stanley introduces the "Stanley Plan" to appease "massive resisters" whose goal was to "prevent a single Negro child from entering any white school."
Named for Governor Thomas Stanley, this plan of 13 acts was proposed by the State Legislature. Among the provisions of the plan:
    • It required the Governor to close schools if the court ordered them to integrate.
    • It required that all state funds be cut off from school districts that tried to reopen anyway.
    • It provided for state tuition grants to support private segregated academy schools.

 The Stanley Plan was adopted on September 17, 1956. (see Editorial in the Staunton Virginia News-Leader, criticizing Governor Stanley's plan to stop school integration.)

September 5, 1956

Lester Banks, NAACP

  • In a special session, the Virginia General Assembly holds a hearing on public school integration. Lester Banks, executive secretary of the Virginia NAACP, testifies (Library of Virginia, Radio in Virginia). 

September 21, 1956

  • The General Assembly requires that any public school with both black and white students be closed.

December 29, 1956

  • Governor Stanley establishes the Pupil Placement Board.
    • The three-man Board to review state-wide requests for school placement never assigned a black student to a white school. Many court cases ensued. In Norfolk, Federal Judge Walter Hoffman claimed the Board was a "veiled attempt to segregate on the basis of race all students in the state." Across the state, most federal courts held the local school boards responsible for pupil placement.