Navigating the 'Virginia Way': Henry L. Marsh, III, Civil Rights, and Movement Leadership

Wingfield-Smith, Danielle, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Alridge, Derrick, Cu-Leadshp Fndns & Pol Studies, University of Virginia

This dissertation explores the legal work, political career, and leadership of Henry L. Marsh, III from the 1950s into the early years of the twenty-first century. The project investigates how Marsh navigated the complex politics of genteel Virginia, referred to as the “Virginia Way.” The study also explores the leadership strategies Marsh used to negotiate Virginia’s racial politics. Drawing on archival materials, oral history interviews, and other primary sources, I argue that Marsh skillfully worked within and in opposition to “Virginia Way” politics and masterfully maneuvered around and challenged Virginia’s discriminatory laws, systems, and policies. Virginia’s response to resist the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education placed Virginia at the forefront of the legal battles that would help fuel Massive Resistance. It also placed Marsh in the middle of civil rights politics and paved the way for his political career as the first black mayor of Richmond and as a Virginia state senator.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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