Letter from L.Francis Griffin to Sarah Patton Boyle (April 8, 1962)


In this letter, dated April 8, 1962, L. Francis Griffin writes to Sarah Patton-Boyle expressing despondency over the prospects of truly ending segregation. Griffin was a leader of the Black freedom struggle in Prince Edward County. Sarah-Patton Boyle was one of Virginia’s most prominent white civil rights activists during the 1950s and 1960s. He writes to her after the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors voted, in June 1959, to defund the public schools, thus locking approximately 1,750 Black children out of an education. Griffin’s stress over finding formal education for these Black children took an emotional and physical toll on him, culminating in the hospital stay that he refers to in the letter. Griffin made national fundraising appeals to support activity centers as a stop-gap measure while the schools remained closed. When Griffin asks about the book that Boyle had mentioned in a previous letter, he may be referring to the Desegregated Heart: A Virginian’s Stand in Time of Transition, an autobiography she published in 1962.


April 8, 1962

Dear Patty,

It is good to be home after thirty seven days in the VA hospital, Richmond, Va., even with a little less than half of my stomach remaining. It was necessary to undergo an operation to remove a large [?] ulcer from the base of my stomach.

In the last communication from you, of course, I may be in error, you mentioned a book you were sending to a publisher. Were you successful? What is the title of the book? What type is it? I hope everything went well for you.

It is my constant prayer that life will be exceedingly good to you. You deserve a great deal of praise and en-

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couragement for your efforts to civilize people. If there is anything the oppressed need in the quest for freedom, it is two things lacking today—leadership and companionship. You have offered both in an unselfish manner. Please accept my personal thanks for whatever it is worth.

The situation here, unfortunately, is not improving. We are still operating a few centers. Of course, these centers should be, as I often repeated, only temporary, our real objective is the re-opening of the public schools. Unfortunately, I see no chance for this until the county is prepared for at least token integration or a strong court order. Meanwhile, the Prince Edward School Foundation wants to

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Have facilities for every white child who can afford them, its hope being that if and when the public schools do re-open, they will be 99 44/100% negro. This is a sad prospect, and I am ashamed to live among such bigots.

Thus it is that I am dismayed by what I have discussed as a result of the closing of public schools. The school problem is a minor problem in comparison with what has been going on in this county over many years. Democracy is being crucified daily—both the middle class whites and the negroes are [?] innocent victims—while races are clashing with each other over the

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school problem. I will discuss this with you when I see you again.

Because I know and respect the intellectual and moral accomplishments which are peculiarly yours, I want you to be good to yourself if others are not.

Please write to me when you find time.

Very sincerely yours,


APA Citation:
Griffin, L. Francis. Letter from L.Francis Griffin to Sarah Patton Boyle (April 8, 1962). (2023, May 12). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Griffin, L. Francis. "Letter from L.Francis Griffin to Sarah Patton Boyle (April 8, 1962)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (12 May. 2023). Web. 22 Jun. 2024
Last updated: 2023, May 12
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