Join us for a new series of stories from the Center for Local History highlighting members of our community who made a difference in ways that helped shape our history and created positive change.
Their voices were not always loud, but what they said or did had a significant impact on our community.
Kathryn Stone, the first woman from Northern Virginia elected to the Virginia General Assembly, was one of a small minority of voices in Virginia that courageously fought against the state’s policy of “massive resistance” to school desegregation. Arguing to keep the public schools open and begin desegregation, she accused long-time proponent of segregation, Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr. and his organization of fostering “a spirit of lawlessness and disrespect for constitutional government.”
"Vote for Kathryn Stone" flyer
A solitary voice, she warned the General Assembly against passing a series of bills aimed at stopping the NAACP from bringing desegregation lawsuits to court which, she argued, curbed freedom of speech and assembly:
“You are stooping in panic as you desert the Bill of Rights, which was born in the mind and hearts of the greatest Virginians.”
As a lawmaker, Stone also played an influential role in the creation of the Virginia community college system and was a leader in legislation to improve youth services, mental health, education, and welfare, but first and foremost, she will always be remembered as a symbol of progressive change and as an undaunted champion of the cause to end segregation in the schools.
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