Author: Jennifer Ritterhouse

who teaches history at Utah State University. She is the author of Growing Up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race (2006)
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Sarah-Patton Boyle (1906–1994)

Sarah-Patton Boyle was one of Virginia’s most prominent white civil rights activists during the 1950s and 1960s and author of the widely acclaimed autobiography The Desegregated Heart: A Virginian’s Stand in Time of Transition (1962). Her desegregation efforts began in 1950 when she wrote to Gregory Swanson welcoming him as the University of Virginia‘s first Black law student. Through her experience with Swanson, her views on desegregation evolved from being a proponent of gradual desegregation to a leading and often controversial white voice for immediate desegregation in public schools and in higher education. Her 1955 article for the Saturday Evening Post, titled “Southerners Will Like Integration,” prompted a fierce backlash that included having a cross burned in her Charlottesville yard. Boyle did not moderate her views, however, and worked closely with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), earning praise from Martin Luther King Jr., Lillian Smith, and others, as well as numerous awards and a measure of national fame. The intensity of her political involvement triggered a deep depression, however, and she eventually became disillusioned with the civil rights movement, retiring from activism in 1967. In 1983, she authored a memoir that contemplated her experience dealing with age discrimination. She died on February 20, 1994, in Arlington due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.