Keep Calm and Carry On

Published:November 9, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

From the February 16, 1959, issue of Life magazine, a photo-essay on the reopening of public schools in Virginia to African American students:

As Virginia’s “massive resistance” to integration crumbled last week, 21 Negro students walked cautiously into former all-white public schools. They came prepared to face enmity, ridicule or even physical violence. They found tension and a few taunts. But there was no trouble. For the most part the handful of Negroes scattered through seven schools in Norfolk and Arlington were pointedly ignored by white students. The state, which had made a carefully planned and resolute fight to check desegregation, dutifully accepted the courts’ decision. The peaceful transition went a long way to restore the climate of inevitability of integration in theĀ  South, which had been badly disturbed a year and a half ago by violence and diehard defiance in Little Rock, Ark.