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.

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