top of page

RFK Gets Enthusiastic Reception in Virginia

May 11, 1964 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy was nearly mobbed today by friendly Virginians of both races. He traveled there by helicopter from Washington this morning to pay his respects to and receive gifts from the 1,574 children enrolled in the Prince Edward Free School Association.

The association is the privately financed school system established last September to provide education for Prince Edward County’s Negro children. President Kennedy was largely instrumental in creating the association.

Segregationist authorities abolished public education in 1959 to sidestep a Federal order admitting Negroes to classrooms with white students. The public schools have been closed for five years.

The reaction of the Negro children was positive and very touching. At four schools, they presented Mr. Kennedy with a total of $99.64, all of it in pennies, collected for the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library in Boston.

But the Attorney General was plainly surprised, pleased, and moved by the warm greeting he received from white citizens. At Longwood College, a segregated state college for women, his motorcade was halted by hundreds of beaming, shrieking young women who closed in around the car carrying Mr. Kennedy and his wife, Ethel.

On Main Street, a group of 40 to 50 adults, most of them white men, surrounded his car again when the motorcade stopped briefly in front of the county courthouse to let off a local official. Again there were friendly greetings, and the Attorney General stepped from his car to shake hands all around.

Later today, students at Hampden-Sydney College, a conservative, Presbyterian College for men, applauded and listened respectfully to a half-hour talk by the Attorney General on the urgency of passage of the civil rights bill. The students — most of them from Southern states — were impressed, and many said so.

Support this project at


bottom of page