When newly elected Virginia governor Linwood Holton escorted his children into an integrated Richmond public school in 1970, he delivered the coup-de-grace to the Byrd machine, a network of conservative Democrats who had flouted Brown v. Board of Education through their policy of "Massive Resistance" for more than a decade. Opportunity Time is a disarmingly candid memoir that offers a behind-the-scenes account of his private and public life at a critical juncture in the political history of Virginia and the nation.
Holton’s election as the first Republican governor in over one hundred years was the culmination of his efforts to create a two-party democracy in Virginia. His tenure led to the reformation of the structure of Virginia’s government and balanced the needs of environmental conservation with the need for the development of key areas, such as Hampton Roads. But his greatest political legacy is his commitment to civil rights, most notably through championing school integration and busing. When Richard Nixon’s "Southern Strategy"--aimed at wooing white voters away from the Democratic Party--was in full swing, Holton devised and implemented an alternative southern strategy, one that acknowledged and addressed racial injustice and violence rather than glossing it over or turning a blind eye to it.
Although a Republican politician, Governor Holton has long held appeal to constituents from both parties. Holton has himself supported moderate Republicans, including Senator John Warner, but as the Republican Party became increasingly conservative, he found his views were more in tune with the state Democratic Party. In recent years, he has endorsed several Democrats for statewide office, including the current governor of Virginia, Holton’s son-in-law Tim Kaine.
Holton’s voice in Opportunity Time reflects his small-town roots in Southside Virginia, where his father was a railroad executive, and his direct and pragmatic approach to political issues. This accessible and enjoyable memoir offers an insider’s perspective on Republican Party politics and race relations through the eyes of a decent, groundbreaking politician.
"Linwood Holton tells why he walked forward with determination at a moment when leadership was needed. His personal story is political memoir at its best: a reaffirmation of idealism recalled with wry humor, a refreshing mix of candor about both himself and others, and a portrait—melded with irrepressible optimism and zest for public service—of a moment that history shows was, indeed, ‘Opportunity Time.
Linwood Holton served as the governor of Virginia from 1970 to 1974. He is a graduate of Washington & Lee University and Harvard Law School. He served on the Submarine Force in the Navy during World War II. After his governorship, he served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, was the President of the Center for Innovative Technology, and was a member of the Board of Directors for Amtrak. While with the firm of Zuckert, Scoutt and Rasenberger in Washington, D.C., he chaired a commission, initiated by Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole, to privatize ownership of Washington National and Dulles International Airports, which led to the improvement and expansion of each airport. Holton is currently a Director in the Richmond law firm of McCandlish Holton, P.C.