Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Slipek's Kilpatrick

Having known Edwin Slipek Jr. since 1972, when he was the editor of the Commonwealth Times and I was managing the Biograph Theatre, I'm somewhat familiar with his views. The Biograph was a regular advertiser in the CT; naturally, I took an interest in its pages.

After that Ed wrote for the Richmond Mercury (1972-75), which also published some of my early cartoons. With his subsequent work for STYLE Weekly I've read what Ed has had to say about Richmond many times. More often than not, I've agreed with him ... not always.

This time I have to go on record: Thanks for writing "Poisoned Pen," the Aug. 25, 2010 Back Page of STYLE Weekly that delivers a native Richmonder's unvarnished look at the late James J. Kilpatrick.

Yes, today's Richmonders need to see that view of Kilpatrick, instead of wallowing in his reflected celebrity and accepting the soft-focused image of a man's work that still poisons debates about education in Richmond today.
Kilpatrick relentlessly and effectively championed massive resistance to desegregation through the bully pulpit of the News Leader, where he was editorial page editor from 1949-1966. “Brilliance and bias,” read the headline of the black-bordered obituary on the front page of the Aug. 17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. “A Courtly Warrior for Conservatism,” proclaimed The Wall Street Journal.

But The Washington Post got it right in quoting University of Virginia political science professor Larry J. Sabato on Kilpatrick’s demise and his studied defiance to integration: “It was one of the saddest episodes in Virginia’s long history, and it helped keep the state a backwater for years to come.”

Click here to read Slipek's piece.

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