Journalist and author Michael Lee Pope detailed the rise and fall of the last great political machine in Virginia. The organization rose to power during the era of Jim Crow, wielding power and influence over everything from who got the nod to be governor to how the state maintained racial segregation. Inheriting its tactics from two previous political machines, the Byrd organization operated with a pathological hatred of debt spending, crushing the power of labor unions, and forcing its will on African American schoolchildren protesting separate and unequal facilities. The nadir of its era was massive resistance, a move to close public schools rather than integrate them.

Michael Lee Pope is an award-winning journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and Northern Virginia Magazine. He has a master’s degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. Pope is the author of five books.

This is a recording of one in the series of AHS hosted free monthly events held on March 9, 2023. The video runs for one hour, 11 minutes and 3 seconds.