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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with David Pryor, June 13, 1974. Interview A-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Hopes for a successful governorship

Pryor describes his hopes for his anticipated governorship. He wants to unite disparate groups of people, anticipate and defuse tensions, improve the state's education system, and apply more care to business development.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with David Pryor, June 13, 1974. Interview A-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Let's suppose you follow the Arkansas tradition and serve two terms. Our book is trying to look into the future, too. Now you're looking back over your two terms. What would you want to be able to say you had accomplished in those four years as governor?
I would like to be able to say that I was the catylist between divergent groups—black and white, labor and management, rural and city—that I could make these people come together to realize how many things they have in common rather than to exploit the differences that they have. And I hope that's the type of administration that I will have. I'm hoping that I can bring these people together before a confrontation. Before a crisis. Before we go to war, for example, on the hot, involved issues that divide unknown . I hope that I can bring them together or help to bring them together. To set the machinery in motion for them to more or less get to know each other, because I believe through communication that we can accomplish these things.I would also like to say, looking back, I would like to have done a great deal for education within the state. I'm not just talking about teachers' salaries, because I don't equate teachers' salaries with good education. But generally the quality of education, improving our educational system, is something I hope I might be able to bring about somewhere down the trail. Let's see. . . that's kind of a hard question. These are general thoughts. I'm not much of a concrete and mortar man. I don't care about having any building. I'm not much on buildings and bridges and this sort of thing. They're necessary, but they're not my ideal or gauge, I guess, of progress. I don't equate concrete and bricks and mortar with progress.
How would you bring these people together? By appointing more people from the small minority groups or. . .? Do you have a plan?
Well, I think that. . . we are lagging right now in appointments of minorities to boards and commissions and I think we could increase this and I plan to do so. When I'm talking about minorities I'm not just talking about blacks. I'm talking about women, also. But basically, by forcing, if necessary, these folks to sit down and talk to each other. And I think through the governor's office I can do this. I see so many business people talk about how bad labor is and they've never met anyone or really talked to anyone about labor, about their problems. I mean labor people talk about business folks. And there's not any communication. I hope we can do it. I hope, too, that industrially I can look back and say that at least I had a part in leading our state, in being very selective as to the type of industry, the type of business that we brought into the state. Because we're at the stage now where we can be very selective. Just a few weeks ago there was a plant in Pine Bluff which announced that it was not going to come. It was a smelter plant. They announced that they were not going to locate in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Well, a lot of people gloom and doom and all like that. Well frankly it upset me none. One, I thought it was going to be a very serious problem of pollution on the Arkansas River. It was going to be a serious problem, eventually, of air pollution. I've never seen or heard of a smelter plant that did not have some pollution problem along with it. And frankly, I say, well, if they don't want to come that's fine. We can afford to be very, very selective about it. And there'll be someone else and I think there'll be someone else down the track that will recognize the responsibilities of citizenship in this state. These are just wild thoughts that seem to me. . . .