This Article analyzes Virginia's effort to remedy massive resistance and posits that, under reparations theory, a broader remedy is necessary to redress the scope of the state's wrongdoing. To do this, Part I briefly examines reparations theory, which provides the tools to identify the proper scope of the injury to be addressed, and, in turn, informs the proper choice of remedy. With this background, Part II discusses the Brown Fund Act and the massive resistance it seeks to remedy. In this connection, the Article demonstrates that the school shutdowns were part of a statewide decision to defy Brown and maintain its tradition of segregation. Part III places that discrimination in historic context, examining Virginia's long history of denying educational opportunities to African Americans. This section demonstrates that the state's intransigence in the face of the Brown decision was but one incident in a centuries-old chain of state-imposed constraints on education for Blacks. Starting with proscriptions against literacy for slaves, and moving to legislation designed to disfranchise Blacks after emancipation, among other means, Virginia used and abused public education to maintain an oppressive social order in which African Americans would perpetually be at the bottom. As a result, Part IV concludes that the Brown Fund Act falls far short of remedying the scope of the state's wrongdoing. In the face of, quite literally, centuries of government abuse of its authority to purposefully exclude its citizens, reparations-that is, a remedy designed to rectify a profound injustice that reverberates today-are necessary. This Part then briefly touches upon the varied forms reparative remedies might take to mend the breach.
Verna L. Williams,
Reading, Writing, and Reparations: Systemic Reform of Public Schools as a Matter of Justice,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol11/iss2/4