The Early Years

The organizers of the VIA in conjunction with its activation on April 20, 1954 immediately set about to demonstrate that they were serious about the plan to coordinate all school activities in Negro high schools of Virginia under one inclusive organization controlled by secondary school principals.

Since its activation on April 20, 1954 The VIA immediately set about to demonstrate that they were serious about the plan to coordinate all school activities in Negro high schools of Virginia.

Indeed no time was lost in serving notice that the principals meant business. In the presence of such key people as pupil activity chairmen from athletics, music, science, and mathematics; President Daniel and Dr. S. A. Madden, Director of Field. Services, Virginia State College, representatives from the State Department of Education and the Virginia Teachers Association, reaffirmation by the principals of their acceptance of their responsibility for school activities was given and notice was served by the action taken that day that challenges to this responsibility would be met head-on.

Assisting the new officers in describing this new responsibility was Dr. Daniel of Virginia State College, who as previously recounted, had done much to make the VIA a realization. Indeed this inaugural session of the VIA revealed the nature and extent of some of the problems the fledging organization would face as it sought to gain acceptance and creditability. Without a doubt these early years of the VIA were its critical years, characterized so because it faced the problems of getting established and accepted. A reasonable estimate would place the duration of the VIA’s early years as six, covering the school years 1954-55 through 1959-60. Records (Executive Committee and Legislative Council meeting minutes) reveal that the action recommended and approved, respectively, by these administrative bodies during these six years focused on setting policies and procedures designed to get the organization operational to attain its objectives.

From 1954 through 1969 the VIA coordinated, not just sports activities, but all extracurricular activities in black secondary schools, including band, music, art and science and math competitions.

As these records are reviewed, one becomes impressed with the flexibility demonstrated by the administrative arm of the VIA, especially the Executive Committee. We find a clear demonstration of a deep insight to the problems to be faced by the new group, of their willingness to give and take, of their willingness to compromise not on principle but on execution, and above all, of their great desire to preserve the principal’s responsibility and to assure an equitable and fair opportunity for every boy and girl to participate on an equal basis. The following accounts demonstrate the wide range of action taken by the Executive bodies of the VIA during its early years and which, in the opinion of the author, assured the VIA’s acceptance by the secondary principals and teachers the Negro schools of Virginia and the VIA’s eventual survival:

1. Approved by election an eleven-man Executive Committee composed of a representative from (a) the three groups of member schools; (b) two representatives from the State Department of Education; (c) one member representing Virginia State College; (d) one junior high school representative. The Constitution also provided that chairmen of various activity groups would be represented on the Executive Committee; but the records show that, with few exceptions, no chairman of a pupil activity sponsored by the VIA attended Executive Committee meetings on a regular basis. In proof of the dedication of these men and women to their task, the record shows that there were nine formal VIA Executive Committee meetings between May 20, 1954 and March 1, 1955. This number does not include informal meetings of the Committee or of special subcommittees of the Executive Committee assigned special problems such as Rules and Regulations or Grouping and Districting.

2. Approved the selection and appointment by President Daniel of C. D. Paige, Principal of Langston High School, Danville, as the first VIA Executive Secretary. Previously, a list of eligible applicants had been approved by the Executive Committee and had been given to President Daniel for use in hiring an Executive Secretary. This selection and appointment was made by President Daniel in accordance with a provision, Section II of the Constitution which reads as follows:

1. Appointment
The administrative officer of the Association shall be the Executive Secretary. He shall have the professional classification as a member, of the faculty of Virginia State College and shall be appointed by the President of the College from candidates recommended by the Executive Committee.
The choice of C. D. Paige was a good one in many respects He brought to the position the qualities needed to provide the leadership necessary in assisting the VIA to become established. Paige was aggressive, ambitious, capable, outspoken, and capable of intense concentration.

Paige deserves much credit for getting the VIA accepted and established. When the author was chosen to succeed him as Executive Secretary following his resignation in 1 1965, a special effort was made in a letter written to all VIA principals announcing his acceptance of this appointment to give C. D. Paige credit for his contributions to the success of the VIA. The following excerpts from this letter and one other letter seem to indicate the importance of Paige’s tenure as Executive Secretary of the Virginia Interscholastic Association:

September 10, 1954
Mr. C. D. Paige
Virginia State College
Petersburg, Virginia

Dear Mr. Paige:
Congratulations for your appointment as Executive Secretary of the Virginia Interscholastic Association. You bring to this office such a splendid combination of qualities that there can be no doubt of the most successful operation of; your functions. All member schools should be happy by the wisdom exercised in your selection.
Please let me know if my office can serve you in any capacity.
John B. Archer
(Secretary of the VIAL)

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