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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Belief that Frank Porter Graham was not assertive on social justice issues

Frank Porter Graham "was a wonderful person, but he wouldn't fight," Green opines. He thinks that Graham did not push more forcefully for social justice because he was simply too nice. Green contrasts Graham's civility with his own confrontational style, which somehow has made him few enemies.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
Why didn't Frank Graham take more leadership in the question of race?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, Frank and I were cousins. His father and my grandmother were brother and sister. I didn't know it until one day he mentioned it and then I looked it up. So, I felt a little closer to him. It is an interesting thing. Frank was a wonderful person, but he wouldn't fight. I heard him once when he was a professor of history here make a speech in Memorial Hall, it was a real fighting speech about justice. It was a great thing and then he asked me to come in and help him on some labor dispute or something but I only lasted about three days. I wanted to get in there and do something and he began to sort of back away from it. I was too radical. So, I fell out of the thing. He loved people so that even when he had a scoundrel to deal with, it weakened his fighting power.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When Frank Graham was President of the University, did you ever try to talk to him about dealing with the black community around here or about integrating the University?
PAUL GREEN:
That's right, I did and he was in principle for it. I remember when Frank was appointed-and this is funny, I haven't thought of it since, I guess,-Howard Odum and I held a lamentation session and I will never forget. I wrote something in my diary or somewhere and Howard Odum and I both agreed that one of the first things that would happen, we would look out under the Davie Poplar and there would be a religious meeting of the Holy Rollers. Frank was so religious and we were just sick, but Frank was better than that and he made quite a name for himself. But, he was just too darn good. It just killed him for somebody to come up and say, "You son of a bitch, you …" He couldn't take it. He loved people so. I went with him on some trips and we couldn't make any progress at all. Every little town that we would drive through, he would say, "I have to speak to So-and-So" and he would come into a drugstore and "Dr. Frank." The first thing that you'd know, he would have a lot of people around him and time would go by. He just loved people, but there are certain times, I think, when you have to use a red hot iron on evil and burn it out.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How do you deal with that kind of conflict? Do you have real personal conflicts with people, do they come up to you and say, "You son of a bitch …"
PAUL GREEN:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How does that effect you?
PAUL GREEN:
Well …Bill Friday interviewed me once and he asked me something about appraising eastern North Carolina and I got loose and said, "Well Bill, I suppose that two of the greatest evils that have held us back here in North Carolina and that may have held back other parts of the country are a narrow-minded fundamentalist religion and mistaken patriotism and worship of the flag and so on." Well, I got loose on that and I got some letters …whew! They would say, "You ought to be run out of North Carolina."
JACQUELYN HALL:
But what about among your peers and friends in the University community? Have you had real personal conflicts with people?
PAUL GREEN:
Not here, no. They have always been either pretty silent or just … as far as I know, I was never penalized. I was sort of disappointed, I never had a cross burned in front of my house and I've never been shot at. Well, the opposition to all is the Ku Klux Klan and the narrow fundamentalist religion, justice among laboring people and all of those things that I have been involved.