Author: Matthew D. Lassiter

associate professor of history at the University of Michigan. He is the author of The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South (Princeton University Press, 2006)
ENTRY

Muse, Benjamin (1898–1986)

Benjamin Muse, a journalist based in Manassas, Virginia, emerged as one of the state’s most prominent white liberals during the period of the Massive Resistance movement, which opposed the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision outlawing segregation in public schools, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Through a weekly column in the Washington Post, Muse criticized what he perceived to be the undemocratic practices of the Byrd Organization, the Virginia political machine led by U.S. senator and former governor Harry F. Byrd Sr., a Democrat. Muse also charged that Massive Resistance represented a desperate gamble by rural leaders to preserve the state’s one-party system. Throughout the five-year crisis, Muse insisted that Virginia must comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling, and he championed the efforts of white moderates and liberals from the cities and suburbs who opposed the state’s plan, which amounted to abandoning public education rather than accepting any degree of racial integration. In 1959, after federal and state courts invalidated Virginia’s school-closing scheme, Muse became the director of the Southern Leadership Project in order to spread the message of compliance with Brown to other states across the region.

Sponsors  |  View all