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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, [date unknown]. Interview A-0140. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

North and South share similar social problems, erasing regional differences

Sanford returns to the South's burden of its historical legacy, despite the region's industrial growth. However, he discusses how the North now shares the South's cultural and racial problems, eliding regional differences.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, [date unknown]. Interview A-0140. 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

WALTER DE VRIES:
On that point, is the South really a region? Is it that much different than the rest of the country?
TERRY SANFORD:
There's no question about it.
WALTER DE VRIES:
How is it different?
TERRY SANFORD:
It's a difference in the sense of history, a difference because it's been the only oppressed "nation" ever to have to deal with the United States government. It's been the only enemy that the United States government has ever extracted tribute from after a military defeat. It's been the only nation that - and, again, in quotes - that, having been defeated, was not given a helping hand in rebuilding it by the national government. And obviously, in this, we were too close to home. Defeat had helped the Germans and the Japanese, but it was impossible to get rid of the bitterness than divided the North from the South. And it has been oppressed. There's no question about it. The Southern Governor's Conference was organized to fight the discriminatory freight rates that prevented industry from coming to the South. It's been . . . it had to, having had the slaves freed, it then had to carry almost the total burden of integrating and educating the freed slave into society, without any help. No federal funds for education. A little bit of foundation money temporarily for a period of several years, which of course was ineffective. So the South, out of it's own exclusion and it's own bitterness for fifty years, became a region apart. And they . . . that was thought as a region.
JACK BASS:
Do you think the South . . .
TERRY SANFORD:
I think they're over that, I might say.
JACK BASS:
Do you think the South has shed its inferiority complex?
TERRY SANFORD:
To a considerable extent, I think so. The Deep South still has the . . . a somewhat justifiable chip on its shoulder. But I think it's pretty well disappearing. I think you look at Louisiana now, and Mississippi, for that matter. I was down there not long ago to a Governor's Conference on Education. I think the South is beginning to look at itself as a region that just by, again, the chance and turn of history is in a position to lead the country in a constructive way. Again, I'm speaking partially from my bias, but I think that that's true. I think more and more people are seeing that we've got a freshness and an opportunity of growth, and many, many advantages. That we can be the brightest part of the nation now.
WALTER DE VRIES:
So you don't see these regional differences diminishing, but . . .
TERRY SANFORD:
Yes, I see them diminishing as differences, because I think our problems are the same problems that the rest of the nation has. I think as we look at . . . I think any region can deal with some of its own problems better than they can be dealt with as part of a national pattern. I think particularly, just to take a narrow example, that New England can deal with problems of transportation better than they can take a pattern for nationwide transportation programs and make it fit them. I think we can do it in terms of zoning and regional planning and land use and so on, a better job in one region than we can do if we try to do it nationwide. I think the midwest has been able to do some things in education better than they could be done nationwide. So I think there's definitely a place for regional effort. But that's not necessarily regional differences, and it's not necessarily that region setting itself apart. But because we are historically a region, there are a lot of things we can do well together.