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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, May 14, 1976. Interview A-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Influence of Chapel Hill and Frank Porter Graham on Sanford's political progressivism

Known for its support of progressive causes, Chapel Hill produced great North Carolina thinkers, such as Frank Porter Graham and Howard Odum. Sanford argues that Chapel Hill and Graham influenced his interest in social justice causes.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, May 14, 1976. Interview A-0328-1. 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

What kind of influence did going to Chapel Hill have on you? Or did it have any as far as your later . . . Had you definitely decided you were going to be entering into politics Was that an early decision?
I would say that I probably would have followed a different path and probably been a different kind of person if I hadn't gone to Chapel Hill. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
The influence of Chapel Hill was the spirit of the place. The people that were ranging across all kinds of new thoughts, new for me, and the personality of Frank Porter Graham. I imagine Frank Porter Graham had as much to do with influencing the generation that he presided over as any other one voice in the state. Not that they all went along in toto with every Frank Graham was for, but the spirit of it carried over. I could certainly tell it in my own period of involvement in state government. The people that were taking part and solid were people that Frank Graham had influenced. There were fortunately many others that hadn't gone to Chapel Hill. But in any event, I think that was a tremendous influence. I think Frank Graham woke people up to the fact that we could do something about some of our problems. He woke them up to the fact that it wasn't so bad to champion the cause of the sharecropper and the black and the working man that wasn't unionized and was being pretty much treated as chattel. That is, I would say, sponsorship of Howard Odum, though the Howard Odum people might put it the other way around—that Howard Odum influenced Frank Graham. I suspect that Frank Graham influenced, supported, encouraged. In any event, it was a mutual thing. But Frank Graham was the president; Howard Odum was the great sociologist. Howard Odum had a tremendous impact. People never had heard his name. But that was again part of the spirit then. I took a course under Howard Odum. To the best of my memory, he had retired from active teaching when I got there. I suppose he hadn't retired totally. In any event, I didn't take any courses under him . . .
He didn't do very much undergraduate teaching at that point.
I just don't remember because he wasn't teaching me, and he was a force that I knew about, and I occasionally served him a meal. The present Director of Selective Service in North Carolina and I did most of the banquet serving at Graham Memorial, which was about the only place they could have meals at that time except the Carolina Inn. We didn't have an inside on the Carolina Inn, but we did on the Graham Memorial service.