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Title: Oral History Interview with W. Horace Carter, January 17, 1976. Interview B-0035. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Carter, W. Horace, interviewee
Interview conducted by Lanier, Jerry
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
Size of electronic edition: 156 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2008.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-02-18, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with W. Horace Carter, January 17, 1976. Interview B-0035. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0035)
Author: Jerry Lanier
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with W. Horace Carter, January 17, 1976. Interview B-0035. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0035)
Author: W. Horace Carter
Description: 145 Mb
Description: 42 p.
Note: Interview conducted on January 17, 1976, by Jerry Lanier; recorded in Tabor City, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Patricia Crowley.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series B. Individual Biographies, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with W. Horace Carter, January 17, 1976.
Interview B-0035. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Carter, W. Horace, interviewee


Interview Participants

    W. HORACE CARTER, interviewee
    JERRY LANIER, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JERRY LANIER:
Mr. Carter is a journalist. He is the editor of the Tabor City Tribune, the only weekly newspaper in the United States ever to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service. Mr. Carter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for his vigorous campaign against the Ku Klux Klan in his own county, Columbus County, North Carolina.
Mr. Carter, could you tell me something about your life: where you were born and some biographical information, please?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I was born in Albemarle, North Carolina, Stanley County, January 20, 1921. My parents are Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Carter, both deceased. I have one brother younger than I am and one sister younger than I am, and both of them still live in Stanley County.
JERRY LANIER:
Did you go to school in Stanley County when you were a young fellow?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I went to school practically in my own backyard, a little country school named Endy, E-n-d-y. I graduated from high school there in 1939; we had twelve people in the class, four boys and eight girls. I was the first boy from that school who ever went to college.
JERRY LANIER:
Did you go straight out of high school into the University of North Carolina?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Yes. I'd never even been to Chapel Hill, and nobody in my family had ever been to college either. But I went to Chapel Hill in 1939. They took me up there and turned me loose. I had $112. when I went up to Chapel Hill; I'd made that money working in the cotton mill during the summer, and saved $112. And I'll never forget that first day I was in Chapel Hill, because I walked in Roy Armstrong's office. He was the head of the pre-college guidance committee at that time; he later, you know, became head of Morehead scholarships and all this. Anyhow, I went in and I said, "Mr. Armstrong, I'm Horace Carter from Stanley County. I've got $112.; do you think I can get through school up here on $112.? And that

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was the greatest encouragement I've ever had in my life: he said, "Well, I know a lot of people who got through on less."
JERRY LANIER:
At the time, were you interested in journalism from the beginning?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Yes, although none of my people had ever been in the journalism business; they were just hard-working people. My Daddy was a machinist; my mother worked in a cotton mill. But from the time I was eighth and nineth grade in high school I was interested in the newspaper business. I had an English teacher who I think had a lot to do with this, and I had written sports for the little newspaper in our county, the Stanley News and Press, while I was in school. This got me interested in it. And I knew that's what I was going to do when I went to Chapel Hill. You might also be interested that while I was there (well, he's dead now) Bob Madry, who was the director of the University News Bureau, was good enough to give me a job in the News Bureau when I was a freshman at Chapel Hill. I worked there the whole four years, and I've often said that I believe I learned as much from Bob Madry as I did going to school at Chapel Hill.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, did you start out as a journalism major? Did you have any other interests while you were there?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Well, I had a lot of other interests, but I worked, like, eight hours a day, and so I thought I was very fortunate to be able to do anything other than that—although I did make the freshman baseball team at Chapel Hill. Jim Tatum was the coach. I didn't get to play; I was a sub and I was a catcher, and I was way down the list. There was about two or three ahead of me, all bigger than I was—I was a little fellow then, about 125-130 pounds. But I did make the squad and made all the trips; and as a freshman that's about the only thing I did take part in, other than working and going

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to school. But in the latter years of my time at Chapel Hill I got involved with a litle bit of everything. I was editor of the Tar Heel. First I was sports editor and managing editor, but I was eventually editor—elected over Jimmy Wallace, who's a professor over at State College now, I believe. And I'm very proud to this day that I was tapped as a member of the Golden Fleece and the Order of the Grail—made them both.
JERRY LANIER:
Quite an honor.
W. HORACE CARTER:
I was very proud of both of those.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, did you come to Tabor City immediately after college?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Except for four years in the Navy. Right in the middle of my junior year at Chapel Hill the war broke out—that was December 7. But anyhow I went on there 'til the end of the term, and I went to Wilmington, North Carolina. Worked in the shipyard down there seven months, because I was a very draftable age, as you can imagine—like twenty-one or twenty-two years old, and not married. I worked down there seven months, and I decided that I'd rather be in the service than be building those ships down there. And I enlisted in the Navy in 1942, and I stayed there 'til 1946. I eventually, though, had some good breaks even in the Navy, because I was the Assistant Master-at-Arms at the hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. I had a recommendation from my commanding officer down there that they'd send me to midshipman's school. And I went back to Chapel Hill one term and to Notre Dame one term—and got a full year's college credit for those two terms, incidentally. I came out of there an Ensign, and I wound up in the war as an assistant navigator on the "U.S.S. Xenobia," and that was an AKA (armed cargo assault). We worked in the north Atlantic the latter part of the war.
I came in to Chapel Hill, though. I got out of the service, like, in

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January. I went back up there and took one political science course that I needed to graduate. Following that I came to Tabor City, because they were looking for somebody to start them a newspaper.
JERRY LANIER:
Was political science one of your favorite subjects?
W. HORACE CARTER:
No. Well, I liked political science, but I was strictly a journalism major. I only took political science because it happened to be one of the things that I hadn't had much of, and I needed that to graduate. It was the final course I took to get my degree. I don't really think I got the degree 'til (I don't even really know), like, '49 or '47 or something, and Ed Lanier brought it to me. I didn't get around to going to any graduation exercises, and Ed finally brought me the degree. He said, "Well, you finally got it." So that's the way it was.
JERRY LANIER:
So you came to Tabor City in 1947? Is that right?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Came there in '46: July 26 of '46 was the day we got the first issue of the Tabor City Tribune out.
JERRY LANIER:
And so you were hired, really, to start the paper, to get it going?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Not hired, but they ran advertising in the daily papers in North Carolina. When I say "they," the Tabor City Merchants' Association advertised. They had two classified ads, as a matter of fact: one for somebody to come to Tabor City and be the executive secretary of the newly-formed Tabor City Merchants' Association; and they had ads in the same paper advertising for somebody to come to Tabor City and start them a newspaper—in that they had no newspaper at the time. They had had the old Tabor City Times, and years before that the Tabor City News, but both of them had gone broke and had closed down. There was no paper there then. So I applied for both of the jobs: I applied for the Chamber of Commerce job and to start

Page 5
them the paper. I came down here, was interviewed. S.P. Smith, who's one of my good friends today, was the first president of the Merchants' Association; I met with he and the members of the board. So they gave me the job as secretary of the Chamber of Commerce (or Merchants' Association), and from that a few months later I started the newspaper.
JERRY LANIER:
That must have been quite a task: to start a newspaper from nothing.
W. HORACE CARTER:
Started it from nothing in the town and virtually no money, and a wife and a six weeks' old baby—so you know things weren't too good. I had gotten married to Lucille Miller from Richfield, North Carolina, whom I had known in my home county. I had married her a year or two before I got out of the service. And we came down here with an old '39 Pontiac with snow tires on it, and Chase said he could hear me coming a mile before we got to the city limits because the tires were making so much noise. And it was a chore. The only money we had was I had saved about four thousand dollars, and I had them in U.S. Bonds, while I was in the Navy. That's the only money we had, and we just didn't know that you couldn't come down here and start a newspaper with such a little amount of money.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, when did you first become aware, if you can remember, of the Ku Klux Klan in this part of the country as being an organized group?
W. HORACE CARTER:
That time when I first started the paper I was running a little column every week on the front page known as "Carter's Column"—which I've run all these thirty-one years, but now run it inside. An individual I don't care to name came in one day and said, "You ought to get involved with this Ku Klux Klan activity that's going on around here." You have to realize

Page 6
that this is the period of segregation, but it was breaking down in the South about this time. And I said, "Well, I don't know anything about it." He said, "Well, they're having a meeting this Saturday night at such-and-such a place."
JERRY LANIER:
Do you remember where this particular meeting was?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Not that first one, because I wasn't at that first meeting. I went to many, many meetings over the years, but that particular one, all I had time to say…. Because then I only had just a girl in the office that wrote some society and answered the telephone, and a one-eyed printer and myself did all the rest of it—I mean, we put out the paper as well as selling the advertising, the subscription list and writing all the news. So all I had time to do was write a few paragraphs in that column saying that we understood there was some effort to revive the Ku Klux Klan in Columbus and Horry County, but in our way of thinking this organization was obsolete and there was no need for it in a free society like we had at that time. This is long about '48 or '49; you've probably seen that column. But that was how I first got involved with it, with just that simple statement that we didn't need any such thing. Well, this aroused the people who had already, you know, bought the hoods and the sheets and had already signed up. And I found out just a few days later that there was a considerable quantity of them. The best estimates were that there were somewhere between fifteen and eighteen hundred in Horry County.
JERRY LANIER:
That's about 1950, before.
W. HORACE CARTER:
Yes, like '49; it was about fifteen-sixteen hundred. I don't think anybody knows how many in Columbus County, but I think we can safely say something like seven or eight hundred.

Page 7
JERRY LANIER:
That's to start with, in '49 and '50?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Right.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, from reading your paper it seems that the Ku Klux Klan first came to Tabor City in the summer of 1950, or first had a motorcade (I think it was called) in 1950. And this really seemed to antagonize you, and your crusade began with that.
W. HORACE CARTER:
Yes. You see, up to then everything had been under cover, but when they come up with a motorcade, then you know that all these things you've been hearing are real. You realize that they are organizing and that they are gathering strength. And this did antagonize us, because at that time the way those motorcades worked they had these lighted crosses on the front car; they had the dome lights burning in all the other cars, with people in them with the masks on and the robes, disguised obviously. And what they did then is, they came up and down our main streets, but primarily they went up and down through all of the black section of town—then that was known as "The Bottom." That's what they called the Negro section, and they went up and down through these sections and tried to, more or less, intimidate these people. And, you know, I just felt it was wrong, that's all.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, at the time had there been rumors of isolated floggings or beatings? Did you know of any at the time?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Not at that time. When the first motorcades took place, these were recruiting exercises. They would follow these motorcades with open meetings in which the general public was invited. And then Thomas L. Hamilton, who was the Grand Dragon at that time from Leesville, South Carolina, he and some of the hierarchy in the Klan would make these very passionate addresses in which they criticized almost everything. I remember very well some of the

Page 8
things they criticized: Frank Graham, who I felt was a great American, and the United Nations (it might have its faults, but at that time it was just barely in kneepants, and I thought it was very early to be criticizing the United Nations). And of course the Catholics and the Jews were in for their share of it, but the blacks were in for their share of the criticism too. But the first motorcades simply were recruiting exercises, in which they were trying to recruit members, sell these memberships and these hoods and these sheets. And the floggings were to come a few months later.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, perhaps the main target of the Klansmen's addresses seemed to me to be Communism, or the fear of international Communism that was widespread in the early fifties. From your articles it seemed that you shared this same fear, and that a majority of the people in the community also were afraid of Communism and saw it as a real threat.
W. HORACE CARTER:
I saw it as a threat then and now. I think that one of the reasons that the Klan got some momentum and did get some membership is because many of the things that they said almost any of us would agree with. I mean, you couldn't oppose everything that they said. I couldn't oppose it now. They were against Communism, and they were for Americanism; and this was, you know, long about (at least shortly before) the time of Joe McCarthy, Senator McCarthy, who made a great deal over the fact that Communism was infiltrating into America. And if that's the only thing that they had been complaining about, I don't know whether we had any right to … you know, crusade against them or not. But we were going on the assumption that what they were trying to do was set themselves up as the judge and jury, as they did following the Civil War, and then set their kind of justice. And we opposed them constantly on the grounds that no individual outside of appointed

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or elected officials had the right to inflict their kind of judgment on the people.
JERRY LANIER:
So it would really be safe to say that your opposition was more based on the tactics of the Ku Klux Klan and their actions rather than their general ideas at the time?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Except we had to attack this idea of opposing people simply because they were black, Jewish or Catholic. I mean, we couldn't go along with that kind of thinking, because we felt that these were Americans too. But when it got to where they were going to be the courts, and knowing the kind of people that the Klan had within its membership, you just couldn't approve of an organization like this deciding who was doing wrong and who wasn't, and performing their kind of justice upon them.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, did you attend the big Klan rally (I know with Mr. Hamilton in particular it would be the most spectacular rally in the United States in twenty-five years) between Tabor City and Whiteville?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I went to that one and many others. The biggest rally I ever went to was down around the Red Bluff area of Horry County. And it was a kind of a risky business (and I'm not trying to paint our organization as any degree of bravado or something—we weren't particularly brave). But you had to go to these if you were going to run a newspaper. And we always went, and we didn't let everybody there know that we were representing the Tabor City Tribune either. And usually I carried some of my linetype operators or somebody with me, because I didn't want to particularly be out there by myself. I did go to these meetings and took notes—but in the shadows of the people. And one of the things that Hamilton and the various other speakers said very often was, at the meetings, "You better be careful

Page 10
of what you say and do, because the guy at your elbow might be a Klansman."
JERRY LANIER:
At the time were you threatened directly by the Klansmen?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Just about every way that you can be threatened—and again, I don't want to be threatened as any great hero in the deal. But it was almost a daily occurrence that we had the threats: in the mail, put under the door of the print shop, under the windshield wiper of my car, as well as the telephone messages to my home. These were daily for several years.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, what type of threats were they? Please don't be modest; it's interesting to see the Klan making direct threats to someone like this.
W. HORACE CARTER:
Well, the threats were first, "You better get off our backs. You don't know what you're talking about. The Klan's down here to do a good job in Columbus and Overy counties, and if you don't get off our backs your house is going to burn, or you're going to find that you don't have any print shop one of these mornings." And then the more subtle kind of threats were those having to do with economics. They'd say, "You've got X number of advertisers in Tabor City now, but you're not going to have any if you keep this thing up against the Klan." And I know that they brought great pressure upon what few advertisers we had. Our situations then, as I often told me wife, was, "We came down here with nothing, and we don't have anything now. And so we can't be any worse off then we were [Laughter] when we came." That was the biggest, the only threat I worried as much about…. I worried more about that threat than I did the physical threats, because I felt like that if they had enough following they can go to one of the grocery stores that was helping keeping us in business, and they could put enough of his customers to go to that fellow and say, "You know, if this guy Carter doesn't quit running this Klan thing now, we're

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going to quit buying groceries from you." And they can squeeze you out of business pretty quick in a little town where you don't have but forty or fifty businesses to start with.
JERRY LANIER:
Were the children and the rest of your family threatened by the Klansmen?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Well, at that moment I only had my one daughter who was very small, and so she was too young to realize any of the consequences. My wife was, with reason, nervous and upset over the entire time. I think she would have been very happy to have left Tabor City and never come back. The threats were general threats as to burning my home and print shop, or I was going to get it myself one of these nights (one of these floggings) if I didn't watch what we were saying. And the Grand Dragon himself came to see me; I think you might have read something about that.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, did these threats have an impact? Did your advertising go down?
W. HORACE CARTER:
We lost some advertising; we didn't have much, but we lost some of what we did have. But I'd have to say that generally my advertisers stuck with us reasonably well. Even some of my best advertisers, though, came to me and indicated that they'd like for me take it easy on the Klan, because they were being pressured not to advertise with us. I still appreciate the fact that enough of them hung with us that we managed to survive.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, was your circulation affected? I don't guess that's quite so important, but it would seem to be an indicator of Klan strength, perhaps, anyway.
W. HORACE CARTER:
We were so young at the time that our circualtion was minor anyway—our newspaper itself was so young at the time. But we lost some,

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and the ones that we lost, you know they made a big deal out of it. They'd write you or come by and call you or something, and say, "I want my name taken off, because you're criticizing the Ku Klux Klan." But in all honesty I would say we probably picked up as many as we lost from people who … wouldn't come out and talk for the Klan or against the Klan, but at least they wanted to see what they were doing—curiosity if nothing else. So I don't feel that we actually lost circulation because of it, although obviously we had some who cancelled subscriptions and didn't want the paper anymore. But we also had some who read it because of what we were saying.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, I know this is a hard thing to get at, to get into really: I was curious if you could make some estimate as to perhaps what the Klan strength was in the community. Were a majority of the people, if not members, sympathetic to the Klan, you thought, or were the majority opposed?
W. HORACE CARTER:
The majority didn't want to be on either side. The majority wanted to be just quiet about it; they didn't want the Klan after them, and they didn't want the people who were anti-Klan to know just where they stood either. So I'd say that the overwhelming majority were neutral, at least openly were neutral. But there was a lot of sentiment for the Klan. I continue to say, though, that the bulk of the people who were in the Klan itself were in there because of the adventure involved; not because of the moral aspects of it, but because they saw in this a chance to exert some power. And I think they were adventurous types, and I think that was the bulk of the people. Generally, though, the man on the street wasn't for the Klan nor was he anti-Klan; he just didn't care much. He just wanted to stay out of it, because they had some fear. I think the man on the street had

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some fear; as the floggings kept up they ran into numerous reasons why it was a litle bit risky for them to say anything either way. [interruption]
One of the most frightening aspects of the Klan crusade was the fact that you never knew who was a Klansman. And I say this in spite of the fact that we worked very closely with the FBI during this period, and were acquainted with much of the investigation. But we still never were aware of who was and who wasn't a member. And I think one of the most shocking aspects to it all was when I found that one of the members of our own three-man town council was a member of the Klan. He was convicted of his Klan activities; he died with a heart attack before he could serve his sentence.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, it seemed that several police officers in the county were Klansmen also.
W. HORACE CARTER:
Hamilton and all the other speakers for Klan recruiting made this very clear at every meeting, that their ranks were filled with the law enforcement officers in the area—not just in this county but in many other counties. And that was definitely true in some instances, because as you probably have heard in one of the articles we wrote about this, a Conway town city policeman was killed wearing a Klan robe and mask at a Myrtle Beach café. The Klansmen shot up this café, and this black man who was running the café shot back and killed one of the Klansmen; and when they carried him to the funeral home and they identified him (his name was Johnson—I've forgotten his first name), he was a Klansman wearing his uniform under his robe.
JERRY LANIER:
Frank Johnson, I believe.
W. HORACE CARTER:
Yes.
JERRY LANIER:
It's interesting. Sheriff Sasser later in an investigation reported

Page 14
that none of the blacks had guns, I think at one time. And so that sounds sort of strange—that perhaps he was not liked by his fellow Klansmen or something.
W. HORACE CARTER:
Sasser was the sheriff in Horry County at this time, and he had been the sheriff down there for years and years. And it's certainly safe to say that while he may have talked against the Klan, he was not anti-Klan under any circumstances or any stretch of the imagination. Nor was John Henry, the sheriff who followed him; I would say that they both had the support of the Klan. Although in the latter years of Sasser's term he openly made a great many claims as to how much he had fought the Klan; but I think that was because there was a falling out among the Klan membership as to who they were going to support in the sheriff's race: John Henry or Ernest Sasser. But I think that both of them at one time or another had the support of the Klan in the county.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, didn't Sasser fail to be re-electred in 1952? And he was charged as being very anti-Klan at the time by Klansmen.
W. HORACE CARTER:
Yes. I was in the printing business in Conway as well as here at that time, and John Henry made a lot of waves by saying that he was opposing the Klan every way he could be. And he even had us print him up a bunch of circulars that he was to circulate throughout the county saying how anti-Klan he was. We printed the circulars; he paid us for the circulars, but he never distributed them. I think he was just trying to influence the newspaper that he was anti-Klan. There was no question, though, he was supported by the Klan. I think that Sasser at this moment may have lost his Klan support. But there isn't any doubt in my mind but what in prior years Sasser had been supported by the Klan as well. Both of them had that kind

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of people that were behind them. And I'm classifying people here, but Klan sympathizers then and now fall into one category, and you can almost spot them by things they say other than Klan statements. And I could see that the type of people that were supporting John Henry and the type that supported Sasser when the Klan growth was growing, these were the same type people.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, did you find the case to be the same in Columbus County, North Carolina insofar as law enforcement was concerned? Was the sheriff's department here actively working against the Klan?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I think there was a great deal more effort in Columbus County to find out who they were and what they were doing and to convict them than they were in Overy County, because I think that that's been true down through the years as far as lawlessness is concerned. But I will say (and Hugh Nance is a friend of mine who was the sheriff at that time in Columbus County, and did have some part in the arrests and the convictions), I'll say now and would tell him that I don't believe the cases would have ever been broken had we just had the local people trying to break the cases. And I don't believe they would have ever come up with the evidence to have convicted them, and I think that they would have looked around and seen so many people that were voting for them that they would have been a little reluctant to have done that much about it anyway. I doubt that local sheriff's departments and police forces would have ever broken the Klan's back.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, one of the Klan leaders himself, I think, would confirm what you just said. Mr. Brooks, in his book that he wrote in 1958, really criticized sheriff Nance—almost charged him with cowardice in a lot of cases, and called him the "little cowboy sheriff." That seems to be a general agreement, that the FBI was really the most active force in finally

Page 16
bringing the Klan to justice.
W. HORACE CARTER:
The original seventeen or eighteen arrests were federal arrests. But then, you know, following right on the heels of that were the SBI (the State Bureau of Investigation) arrests, and these were worked in conjunction with the sheriff's department. But I don't believe the FBI would have let all the debuties and the sheriffs and the various local law enforcement officers even know much about what was going on until they were ready to crack down on this. There's too many chances of a leak here which would spoil the thing. Incidentally, since we've mentioned the sheriff and Hugh Nance at that time, the nearest I came to shooting somebody in my life was in this period. And it was about two o'clock in the morning; and of course I didn't know who it was, but I was kind of on edge during this period anyway because they kept telling me how they were going to take me out of the house and beat me up. And at about two o'clock in the morning somebody knocked on my door. There were no houses right close to where I was living at the time (several hundred yards), and so I said, "Well, they finally came after me." And I had my gun, and in another minute or two I probably would have shot him. But just about the time I was started to the door he said, "This is Hugh Nance, the sheriff." Now, it could have been somebody else and just used this as a ruse to get me out, but in actuality it was him, and he was telling me about some more Klan information that he got. That's the nearest I came to shooting somebody; it was a wonder I didn't shoot.
JERRY LANIER:
Did you have your gun along very often at all?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Not in the streets, just at home. But I tried not to be by myself at night around the county, because that was just asking for trouble.

Page 17
And I had phone calls saying, like, "Your house is being photographed; your house is being watched. We know your schedule, and we're going to eventually get you."
JERRY LANIER:
Cole in Whiteville, did he receive the same sort of treatment?
W. HORACE CARTER:
He did, as far as I know. Willard's dead now, you know; but in the early part of this campaign it had been centered down in this area and in Horry County, and the News Reporter wasn't as directly involved 'til long about—what?—'51 or '52, somewhere in through there. But once he got involved with it, I think Willard did a magnificent job campaigning against the Klan. And he deserved any recognition he ever got for it; he worked hard at it. And I think he had just as many threats as we did; and in some respects I think you have to respect his position even more, because he was there at the county seat, and the law enforcement officers and the investigation centered there more than it was down here. We were way down here in the country eighteen miles from the county seat, and I think he may have been closer to the later stages of investigation than I was.
JERRY LANIER:
I think, too, perhaps he had one advantage in that his paper came out twice a week; it was a substantially bigger paper.
W. HORACE CARTER:
With more circulation, and just more pages and more space to say it; more people there to be involved, right.
JERRY LANIER:
Mr. Brooks was delighted to say that of all the enemies, of you and the sheriff and Mr. Cole, that he guessed they hated Mr. Cole worse. And I think it was because he reached more people, in a way.
W. HORACE CARTER:
Sure he did. Our circulation was something less than two thousand; and I expect at that time the News Reporter was probably in the

Page 18
five thousand bracket—I'm not sure, but certainly between three-four-five, in that neighborhood. But it was getting to more people, and it could have more influence, I'm sure, than we could. Mostly what Early Brooks said about me was that I was going crazy, or something or other; seemed like he said something or another, "That newspaper editor in Tabor City is losing his mind," or something like that.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, didn't Mr. Hamilton charge you with being insane or crazy one time, and you challenged him to be examined by a psychiatrist?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Yes. He came to see me after I wrote one of those [Laughter] front page columns about what the Klan was doing, and I made the statement that I'd like to get together with Hamilton and we'd see which one was crazy. We'd just go and have an evaluation of each of our lives. He came to see me, and he made something out of that, that I had charged that he didn't have all his marbles. He didn't think I had all of mine. One of the things I remember so well about Hamilton was this fact that he was very strongly against my friend Frank P. Graham; and I told him there wasn't anything he could say that would ever make me change my devotion to Frank Graham. And I said then and now that if Jesus Christ had been among us when Frank Graham was on the earth, that he would have been one of the twelve apostles; this burns him up, because he thinks so little of him.
JERRY LANIER:
Did you know Mr. Hamilton or Grand Dragon Hamilton before he became active in the Klan in the Tabor City area?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I'd never seen him, nor had anybody else in this area ever seen him. He was strictly an outsider. Hamilton got involved, in my opinion, because it was a money game. Now he got involved also because he wasn't local, and he could show his face in a motorcade and still nobody would know him.

Page 19
I mean, he was the one who was out front with his identity (insofar as not covering up himself). Somebody in the Klan activity like that has to be known; somebody has to make speeches, somebody has to have his face uncovered. And he was the one; he was the open part of the Klan, made no bones about where he stood. And it had always been a little surprise to me that he was a Shriner; I don't know whether you were aware of this or not, but he was a 32nd degree Mason. He seemed to be very proud of that, but I never could see the correlation between the principles of Masonry and the principles of the Klan.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, along about this same time I believe you supported black attendance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Law School. And this seemed to be a rare position indeed to take in this part of the country. Do you think this hurt you in any way in terms of advertising or circulation, or your creditability with the people in your area?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Well, I think that, again, we had the same type people who were Klansmen who felt that the blacks weren't entitled to any privileges that they didn't already have. And they felt that this was their lot in life, and they weren't supposed to ever get any better, just to stay in the same rut. I don't know that we lost any advertisers; I know that we had people who thought we were too liberal. But coming from Chapel Hill, they said they could expect that; so this is the kind of people I had. I know we were the first, insofar as newspapers in this area are concerned, newspaper (be it ever so humble, because we were a mighty small operation then— and now, for that matter) to carry news stories and pictures of the blacks in the community for the ordinary deeds that they did. Now, people carried the names of the blacks and the stories on the blacks if they were indicted

Page 20
in the courts and if they were criminals, and various things that they were charged with, but up to then nobody had run any pictures of blacks and stories of blacks if they were on the library board, for instance, or if they'd done some of the better things in the community. I know we were the first. In fact, I recall very well that at this same period of time the Wilmington Star News, which was the biggest daily paper in the area, wouldn't even run a group picture with a black in it. I've seen pictures in their paper in which they routed out the faces of the blacks, just to keep from showing them in the paper. And the first ones that we ran on the front page, I got some criticism from. Some of those people that were critics of that are not even living now, but I've had some of them say, "Well, you sure never should have run that black fellow's picture on the paper. You never should have had him in the paper." And that was during the period when little weekly papers had just an inside column somewhere that was called "Negro News," and then they'd just put everything into that one column that had to do with the blacks. We had such a column for some time, but then we did away with this and started just handling them like we would anybody else, any other news. And I still feel that we were right; I feel that's the way it should have been handled.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, now we're here only three or four miles, I guess, if that far from the South Carolina line. And I was wondering if you felt that newspapers in Horry County (although it's a small town county much like Columbus County, and much like Columbus county in a lot of ways) failed to write against the Klan or editorialize against the Klan because they agreed with the Klan, or perhaps because they were afraid of the Klan; or for what reason did they take a position that was certainly not the same as yours?

Page 21
W. HORACE CARTER:
Well, I think the two Conway papers early in this period were run by people who thought just like the Klan did. Now, in the latter stages of this, like the paper in Myrtle Beach: [unclear] the people who ran the Myrtle Beach Sun and the Myrtle Beach News, I don't believe they agreed with what the Klan was doing, nor do I believe that they would have under any circumstances ever been Klansmen. But I think that they knew that the average man on the street in Overy County was more pro-Klan than they were in Columbus County. And I think it was a matter of survival that they took the easy way there and just decided not to be anti-Klan or pro-Klan; they just weren't either. They reported a few basic facts on news happenings regarding the Klan, but I don't think the Horry County newspapers ever took any stand against the Klan activities.
JERRY LANIER:
At this time, Mr. Carter, did you know the identity of a large number of Klansmen in this area, and did you continue to have cordial relations with these people?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I had knowledge of a few dozens; not in the hundreds, but I had knowledge of maybe twenty-five or thirty-five that I knew were members or I had good reason to believe were members. And, of course these are difficult things to prove. You had to go here on what somebody else had told you who had been to a meeting and who thought he had recognized some. But we had a few. We tried to plant some people in the Klan ourselves (I mean, the newspaper tried to plant some people). We had some applications filed by various people that we hoped to plant in the Klan. [interruption] None of these people that we tried to get planted in the Klan ever were accepted; I don't know how they got to the root of it. They never were, any of them, accepted. We tried to get, I'd say, a half of dozen or more. Now the FBI and the SBI

Page 22
did plant some people in there; and that's about the only thing that we could go on, some of the things that we learned from them as to who the membership was.
JERRY LANIER:
So the FBI did plant people in the Klan? This seems to sound like recent years.
W. HORACE CARTER:
Yes [Laughter] . Well, today's newspapers and today's media seem to think there's something wrong with that, but I think it's exactly [Laughter] the way we ought to try to get law enforced. I can't find any objections to trying to place a CIA member in a Communist-front organization in America today. It seems to me that's the way to find out who they are; and if they're destined to try to overthrow the country, if they're revolutionaries, I don't think there are any unfair tactics. I think the tactics are all fair if it's people there for the subversive idea of overthrowing our country; I think we should have all the rights. I don't think the criminal has any rights when it comes to destroying the country.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, how were your relationships with people you knew to be Klansmen during this period? Were they cordial, or was there any hostility when you met them on the street, if you can remember?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Well, I think that generally the Klansmen then didn't know whether I knew he was one or not, and to show his hostility kind of uncovered him from what he was hiding. So I don't think we had any hostility in that respect. But I think one of the blessings from the Klan activities is the fact that some of those who were convicted of floggings, or who were definite leaders in the Klan's movement, who were members during the entire episode and who served terms and who came back home, I still rate three or four of them today as my friends. Now, I know them and they know me, and we have

Page 23
no animosity. Generally speaking, their attitude has been since that time, "Well, I got hoodwinked into this thing, but I've paid my debt and so I don't want you to hold it against me." And I don't hold it against them.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, now do you know the Klansmen in the county now? Do you think there's an active Klan in this county?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I don't think there's any Klansmen in the county that have any …. Let me put it this way: I don't think there's any card-carrying Klansmen to speak of—there might be a handful. But I don't think there are any card-carrying Klansmen to think of. But I think we still have some people who think like the Klan thought; I think we still have some that would sympathize with the very things that the Klan was promoting at that time. Now, this may not be the time to say it, but somewhere we need to point out this basic fact about the Klan: we have never (then or now) tried to say anything good about the character of the people that they flogged. And I think that's one reason the Klan had some following then and some sympathizers then, because these beatings that they administered and their form of justice on these people, generally speaking the people that they punished had a lot lacking in their character and they deserved some kind of punishment. But our crusade was that this group of vigilantes were not the one to do the punishing. Of course, their rebuttal to this was, "Nobody else is doing anything about it." So they had some argument; and this made some people pro-Klan, because they'd say, "Well, I hear of these few people that are leading these immoral lives, and they've been doing it for ten years and the children out there are suffering, and nothing's being done about it." So the Klan did something about it: they put the whip to them. We posed it anyway as we would now. But I did want to point out the fact that some people were

Page 24
sympathetic to the Klan because they could foresee some deserved punishment by these people.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, did you personally know or were you acquainted with any of the Klan victims?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Only to a nodding acquaintance kind of way. I mean, some of these people in this area who were beaten up (some blacks and some whites), I would know the name if I saw them on the street but I had no real close association.
JERRY LANIER:
In your estimation, Mr. Carter, were there a lot of floggings that were never reported or never came to light?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I think there were a lot more that weren't reported than were reported. And I thank God for the ones that were reported, because if they hadn't been reported the FBI and the SBI would have had nothing to go on, and we would have been in a bad position. But the fact that some of these people had the courage to report them, I think that is a major point in the whole episode, because had they not gone to the sheriff or somebody and told their stories they would have broken the case.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, perhaps some of that can be attributed to newspaper report they received.
W. HORACE CARTER:
I believe that if the newspapers hadn't said anything, hadn't even offered any crusade against this activity at all, I doubt seriously that it would ever have been broken. In the first place, I doubt if anybody would have talked; second, I doubt that the FBI would have ever gotten involved with it. I think it's one of the purposes that perhaps we served, to get enough attention focused on it that it did get the FBI interested. And if we hadn't, I don't believe the local law enforcement would have ever broken

Page 25
it. I think here might also be a time to say a good word for the Raleigh News and Observer, because I think as long as Willard and I were talking about it down here in the county and nobody else was saying much about it, that perhaps we would have had a hard time….
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
W. HORACE CARTER:
… in this campaign against the Ku Klux Klan, because they were a big newspaper with a big circulation. And they sent Jay Jenkins down here, who was working with the state editor at that time, and Jay did a lot of talking to Willard Cole and myself and came to some of the public meetings. And they publicized the Klan activities and the floggings with some big banner headlines on the front page, and I think this helped to get the FBI interested in it. They saw it as more than just any little small town/rural county problem, but that it could grow into a state and national problem.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, you mentioned that the Wilmington paper was the closest daily paper. Did the people in Wilmington at the newspaper seem to take an interest in Columbus County Klan problems?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I didn't consider the Wilmington paper very much of an aggressive newspaper in that period. It's much more so today; I think it's a right good newspaper today. The Star News in that period was not what I would call a crusading newspaper; it more or less accepted the church socials and that kind of thing, and it didn't do much crusading one way or the other. It certainly did not put out the effort that the Raleigh News and Observer did. And I think too that its management in that period perhaps reflected some of the pro-Klan thinking; as I told you, they didn't run pictures of the blacks and that kind of thing, even though segregation was on the verge of being outlawed. The newspaper in Wilmington at that time didn't take much of an

Page 26
effort to be very liberal.
JERRY LANIER:
I see. In looking at the Klan at the time, did you perceive the Klan to be a real political threat in the county? Was there ever any fear or any talk about the Klan actually having enough influence to elect public officials in Columbus County?
W. HORACE CARTER:
That what they said: that's what the Klansmen said and that's what the Klan leaders said every time they made any statement at all, that "You better be aware of us, because we soon will be able to control all the activities in your county. We're going to put the people in office; we're going to be the ones who elect your county commissioners and your sheriff departments." Now I never did believe that they could get a majority of the people in Columbus County if they knew that they were voting for Klansmen. I never did believe they had the majority of the people on their side, although they had sizeable followings. But insofar as the Klan itself is concerned, this was their threat; this is what they said, that "We're going to control it all."
JERRY LANIER:
Well, do you think they had a much bigger following in Overy County, a following that would have enabled them perhaps to elect some of their own people to local offices?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I think they did elect some people to office in Overy County. Now, there were some people who were fairly close to the Klan in that time who made estimates of up to forty-five hundred membership in the Klan in Horry County. Now, I don't suppose anybody will ever really know; I always guess something less than two thousand. But there were people who thought that they had as many as forty-five hundred actual dues-paying members. And, you know, you can take forty-five hundred dues-paying members in a

Page 27
rural county like Horry County (which I suppose had like maybe thirty-five or forty thousand people at that time, including Myrtle Beach, where you had a big summertime population), and forty-five hundred people organized in a county of that kind of population could control almost anything, because they've all got families and friends.
JERRY LANIER:
I see.
Well, Mr. Carter, you won the Pulitzer Prize, and your paper is still the only weekly in the United States to ever win the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service. When were you notified of the award, and what was your reaction when you received the award?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Well, I was sitting in that little old thirty by seventy building down on Live Oak Street, the first building we ever occupied, and I still just had a girl and me and a printer or two in the back. And the call came from the Raleigh News and Observer; I don't know whether it was Jonathan Daniels or somebody else—it might have been the state editor. Anyhow he called me, and I happened to be in at the moment. And he said, "I want you to know that it just came over the wire that you won the Pulitzer Prize." And I said, "For what?" And he said, "For Meritorious Public Service. This is the biggest of the Pulitzer Prizes." And you know, they've got them in various phases—literature and all. And I said, "Well now, I never expected anything like this down here in the country." And so it was a startling kind of thing; I mean, if you come from a little old country community like I did, and go to a school like Chapel Hill (that you felt like you were the smallest frog in the pond up there), and then you come down here in another rural area, and to win the Pulitzer Prize (which is, to me, the biggest of all the journalism awards), is almost unheard of. I was shocked and really didn't know how to handle it. But we did run a headline

Page 28
the next week in the biggest type we could find (some big old wood type about two inches high) saying "The Tribune Wins the Pulitzer Prize." It was almost unimaginable then and now.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, perhaps this is a difficult question, but I was curious as to why you think they gave you the Pulitzer Prize? What did you do? What was the most important thing in your reporting or your writing that won for you the Pulitzer Prize?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I think we've got to give Jonathan Daniels some credit for that, as the editor of the News and Observer in that time. I think he spotted a trend in the country toward anti-segregation and anti-Klan activities, and I think he saw the possibility that the time was ripe, so to speak, for some weekly newspaper to win something for something that it did in the country. In pointing out the merits of this little crusade down here to Columbia University and the people who make the decision as to who wins the Pulitzer Prize, I think that they saw in what Mr. Daniels said some merit: that maybe it was time to recognize some of the smaller media in the country, and here was something that did have national attention. It had made the New York Times and Time magazine and the various big publications in the country (the Klan activity had), and I think the time was right for a weekly newspaper to win an award. And we have to again go back and give Jonathan Daniels and the Raleigh News and Observer some credit for having won it.
JERRY LANIER:
Don't you think that perhaps they were impressed, probably, up in New York with what they perceived as really nothing less than courageous action, primarily because you were threatened? And they had a real fear of the Klan themselves, I suppose.

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W. HORACE CARTER:
I think that they did see this as country journalism that's taking much more of a chance than we would in New York City or Washington or Baltimore or Chicago. We kept referring to it as "fighting an evil that was on our own doorstep;" and it was on our own doorstep. And I think that some of the big papers kept harping on this, that you can sit up here in a big airconditioned office with a hundred people in a newsroom and say some things, and not be pressured nearly as much as if you're sitting down there by yourself in a little building on a remote street, where the people you're talking about are right outside the door.
JERRY LANIER:
I see. Well, editor Cole in Whiteville was also acknowledged for the Pulitzer Prize. And I was curious: did you and he work together? Did you cooperate, get together to plan your crusade, or was it just each of you individually doing the same thing?
W. HORACE CARTER:
It was individually done. Willard was in Tabor City before he went to the News Reporter in Whiteville. He came here as my replacement after I resigned as secretary to the Chamber of Commerce (of the Merchants' Association). He came here from Panama, and he lived here a number of years. And he served as executive secretary of the Merchants' Association. He had been in the newspaper business before in North Wilkesboro and some other places, but he had been out of the newspaper business for a number of years. Then he had a chance to go to Whiteville to be the editor of the News Reporter (Mr. Leslie Thompson is the one who hired him at the time), and he went over and filled that job. And we never got together, like prior to a publication date, and said, "Let's have another editorial about the Ku Klux Klan." But in his own routine of running a newspaper and in my routine of running a newspaper, enough things came to our attention in meetings and threats

Page 30
that we just naturally grabbed onto the possibility of pursuing this subject. And we ran it over a period of three or four years. Willard, I believe, got into it about '50 or '51, somewhere along in there; you investigated this somewhat, so you know about this. But when he got into it, he got into it with both feet, and I felt like that … he did a better job than we did during the latter portion, the latter phases of this investigation into these conditions and all. Him being there where the sheriff's department and all was gave him some advantage in that, too.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, did you have access to the law enforcement people? Did you talk to the sheriff people, or was this a real problem for you? Did you have to get up out of bed late at night and run over to the sheriff's office?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Oh, I talked with them on numerous occasions, because they were in our office occasionally. And I suppose I was in their office occasionally, although I was so busy trying to make a living I didn't have too much time to run around hunting deputy sheriffs and go over to the sheriff's department. But I say again, in spite of the fact that they perhaps were very sincere in their efforts, I don't really think the sheriff's department had anything to tell you. I don't think really they knew much that they could tell you that was a good news lead, or anything that you didn't already know. And, of course the FBI, they would tell you a considerable amount about what was going on (not everything, but some of the things that were going on), but you obviously had sense enough not to divulge it, either, because we were trying every way we could to cooperate with the FBI and the SBI.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, what were some of the other awards you won at this time? Don't be modest; I'd be interested to know.

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W. HORACE CARTER:
I won eleven, I believe, Jerry. But the two that I value so much (although I value them all): I value the Pulitzer Prize, which we already discussed, for Meritorious Public Service, and then I got the award from the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce for one of the ten most outstanding young men in America. I believe that was 1954 that I got the award in Seattle, Washington, and I value that right along with the Pulitzer Prize. I mean, to have been one of the ten men under thirty-five years old in the country recognized is an honor that you can't just shrug off. I still think a great deal of that, and I still have the clasped hands that are in bronze on my mantlepiece in my house that they gave me at that time. I'm very proud of that. The other awards, though: the first award of significance was the First Annual B'nai B'rith Award from the Anti-Defamation League for the Southeastern United States. I got that award in Durham, North Carolina, although it was made by a gentleman from Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and it was a Jewish award. But I'm very proud of that award, because it was the first. But in addition to that I have the North Carolina Man of the Year in 1952; have the Distinguished Service Award by the JC's right here in this community, the first one that they ever gave (and I believe that was in '51). And I'm proud of that because it was local, the fact that I got this local award. And then we had the National Editorial Association's President's Award in 1954, that I got in Baltimore, Maryland; I appreciated the fact that nationally the press recognized the effort and gave me this award. I know we had records of commendations and certificates and awards from the Eastern North Carolina Press Association and from the North Carolina Press Association itself. There were others: the Civitans, for instance, in North Carolina gave me their annual award for Meritorious Public Service, and I got this award somewhere up in

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Piedmont, North Carolina. And it was an honor to have been recognized by the Civitans; I'm not a member of the Civitan Club—Rotarian—but nevertheless I appreciated all of them. But you have to rate the Pulitzer Prize and one of the ten outstanding young men in America award as the tops in the business.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, did you continue to stay in Tabor City after winning the award? Did you have job offers outside of Tabor City
W. HORACE CARTER:
Had some good offers from other newspapers. I never seriously considered these; I knew I wanted to stay in Tabor City and raise my family. And I'm very happy that I did. And my own son now not only runs the Tabor City Tribune, but our wholesale paper business, our printing business, our die-cutting business. And we've grown from a little outfit: the first year we were here we did fifteen thousand dollars worth of business, and this year we did almost two and a half million dollars worth of business in a little town of three thousand people. We're very proud of that. And I'm very proud that my son likes it here and lives here—and my two daughters. One of them lives in Lumberton, the other one's still in college; but they all seemed to have liked Tabor City. It was certainly the right move when I came to Tabor City—almost like it was fate.
JERRY LANIER:
All of your children have gone to Chapel Hill to school?
W. HORACE CARTER:
That's another thing. Like I told you when we began this conversation, no member of my family on either my mother's or father's side had ever been to college. I was the first; I was lucky to get through, and I finally did make it with Cs and Bs. But then I set as a lifetime ambition that my children would all have college degrees. And the Lord willing, if my daughter gets through this term at Chapel Hill she'll have a journalism

Page 33
degree. And my son's got a journalism degree; and my oldest daughter has an education degree, and lives in Lumberton where she's the mother of my three grandbabies.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, you never worked for another newspaper after coming from Chapel Hill?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Not full-time. No, I came directly from Chapel Hill here. Now, I had worked summers and vacations for the News and Press in Albemarle, and I had been a free-lancer with the Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel and the Charlotte News while I was in school and in the summertime. During that period American Legion baseball was a big thing in my time (I believe you played that too); and in Albemarle we won the national championship one of those years when I was in school. The Little World Series was played in San Diego, California; and I was the sports editor of that little weekly paper, and as such I did a lot of work with the other daily paper. But I never held any job full-time after Chapel Hill except this; I came here and took this job. [interruption]
You may be interested, perhaps, to know that in 1948, I guess it was, after I had been down here and started this weekly paper, the Tabor City Tribune, an old friend and schoolmate, Orville Campbell in Chapel Hill, asked me to come with him to start the Colonial Press in Chapel Hill that would print the Daily Tar Heel. At that time it was being printed by the Orange Print Shop. And I went back there, moved my wife and daughter, and we went back to Chapel Hill. And I stayed up there about fourteen months, I believe, and we did start Colonial Press—bought equipment, moved it in, hired printers, and began printing the Daily Tar Heel and doing commercial printing throughout the community. And I think we were making a reasonably good success of that.

Page 34
However, I had that longing to get back into the newspaper business itself, and I came back here in 1949 and brought my wife. By then my son had been born up there, while we were in Chapel Hill, and so we brought the family back down here. And I've never been sorry that I did, although Orville at time (who's still a friend of mine) said, "Why in the world do you want to go down there in the country and bury yourself where nobody'll ever hear of you?" And he got some rasberries sure enough by some of my cohorts when we did win the Pulitzer Prize and some of these other awards.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, what were your politics at this time? Were you a Democrat or a Republican, conservative or liberal? Or could you qualify yourself?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I had a strange history in politics. I was originally a registered independent, and I really think that's what I am now. I registered originally as an independent, and then (like thirty years ago) I was registered for a year or two as a Republican. But during the thirty-one years that I've been in Tabor City I've been registered as a Democrat. Now, this may be for a very selfish kind of a reason, because the primary elections in North Carolina (and particularly eastern North Carolina) are such that if you're not a registered Democrat you just might as well not vote, because that's where the people are chosen. And so I've been a registered Democrat all these years since I've been in Tabor City. But I'm not one of those that would follow the party (that's tied to a news tail, as somebody said); I vote for the individual, then and now. I think I have voted for every Republican presidential candidate, beginning with FDR going out of office. I believe I've voted for all Republican presidential candidates since then, and probably will again. So I really guess I'm more of an independent than anything else; I usually split

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my ticket and vote for whom I think would do the best job. And as to being liberal or conservative, that's a very difficult thing to say because the meaning of the words change so much. When I came out of school, I think everybody who knew me would have said I was a liberal. And I suppose during the first ten or fifteen years in Tabor City I would still have been rated a liberal—or certainly was rated a liberal by the conservatives, because they felt like I was almost a radical liberal. But I would say in the last ten or fifteen years most people think I'm a conservative and maybe even a reactionary, because I'm certainly taking the liberal tack now. Because I see the liberal movement in the country as being a threat to the way of life as we've known it, and therefore I classify myself as a conservative. I'm the kind of conservative that would think that Reagan from California has some of the right ideas. Even George Wallace isn't altogether wrong, although I've never voted for George Wallace.
JERRY LANIER:
Did your paper support Mr. Wallace in 1968, or at any time?
W. HORACE CARTER:
No, we didn't. We supported Nixon in 1968. And I've created a lot of animosity among fellow people in the news media over the Nixon thing, because I never gave up on Nixon. And today I say that he probably did more for the foreign policy of this country than any president during my lifetime, and I stay with that. I know he's made some mistakes, but, you know, I have too; and I don't feel that the mistakes he made, even though they shroud these with claims like "Abuse of Power" and "Cover-up" (which I never heard tell of 'til this came up)…. They've shrouded these charges in such terms that you don't really know what they mean. And I've never felt that the activities that he was involved with were sufficient to run him out of office.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, do you think integration has worked in some ways, or has it

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failed, do you think, to produce racial harmony in the schools—or racial balance in the schools, at least?
W. HORACE CARTER:
I almost hate to comment on this, because it will make me more of a reactionary than some people think I am already, perhaps. But I don't think there is any doubt (and I have to speak in terms of local situations here, because I'm not aware of what's going on in South Boston other than what we get in the newspapers) whatsoever in my mind, or many other people's minds, that the quality of the schools, the public schools in our community, has been reduced significantly since segregation ended. Now hopefully somewhere along the line it has helped some of the blacks, but it has hurt the whites insofar as the quality of education is concerned. This has gotten to be a political phrase, "quality of education." There is no quality education in Columbus County at the moment; it is much, much worse education than it was ten years ago. And I hate this is true; I wish it were the other way around. And I don't say that putting the blacks in the schools is the sole reason it happened, although I'm not qualified to say why it happened. But I can look at the high school graduates now, or I can talk with one, or I can have one fill out an employment application and compare it with applications of a decade ago, and you can tell from the phrasology, the spelling and everything else that there's something lacking that we had some time ago.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, could you speculate on perhaps what would be a better plan for integration? Or should we go back to segregation? Do you have any ideas of your own that might be helpful?
W. HORACE CARTER:
We should never go back to the segregation again, although I'm one of those anti-bussing people. I think this is the wrong thing. I don't know that I have any solution to it, but I know that that's just not

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the American way. And every time we get to the bussing thing I have to also make this statement: in my childhood, when I was going to school, in the county I was raised in, we were bussing children like twenty-five or thirty miles to get them to an all-black school. And now we're bussing them both directions to get them all in the same school. Now, it's just as un-democratic to have bussed them to the all-black schools then as it is un-democratic and un-American to bus them to white and black schools now. Neither one of them are right; it wasn't right then and it's not right now. But somewhere there's got to be a system that's better, and I don't know that I'm qualified to say what kind of system—although if it's truly carried out to the truest meaning of the word, the best system in the world was the freedom of choice. If they had left freedom of choice alone, and if school boards had accepted this and carried it out, then I think you would have had a system in which no animosity was created because it was forced integration. There would have been some integration, and it would have eventually been total integration; it wouldn't have been as fast, and it wouldn't have created some of the confusion that we have now. Of course, some of us in our country are responsible for freedom of choice not working, because some of the choices weren't honored; I mean, they'd try to go to this school or that school and the school boards turned it down. Sometimes they had economical, practical reasons for turning them down. But if we could have kept freedom of choice a reality right on to the n-th degree, we would have had a much better system than we do on the forced integration system that we have now. But let me be fast to point out that we have had no racial problem in Tabor City with the integration. As a matter of fact, insofar as violence or vandalism or some of the things that have occurred in a lot of other schools, we have been blessed with having prac-

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tically none of that. The only thing that we've got is that apparently we have a situation in which children are not learning as much, and I think we might truthfully say that this is because the class has to keep up with the slower ones. And they aren't all black, but some of the slower ones are black—-you can't eliminate that possibility. And as such we have a situation in which our school system is not teaching people what it did a few years ago.
JERRY LANIER:
Well, Mr. Carter, what do you see now as the main problems facing the United States? What are the problems that will be the toughest to deal with, do you think?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Well, it gets back to economics. I think that the prime problem in this country is that we have grown a generation of people, both black and white, who feel that the country owes them a living. And as long as people aren't producing something they are of very little value to the country, regardless of color or age or sex. In the long run, it has to be what this country makes and does and produces that determines how successful it is. And we have such a large segment of the people that have got this idea that "I don't have to do anything, that I'm going to get a living anyway." And I think this is a big problem, because this group is electing a lot of the officials in the country; and it's got to where the politicians who represent us are afraid to do anything to reduce this "gimme a living for nothing." And therefore these people are expecting it, and I think it's become such a problem that it's going to spend us into obscurity; it's going to spend us into bankruptcy—as New York City already is. And actually, if you had an audit in this country, we're bankrupt too (the national government is). As long as we can print the money and issue the money we'll keep on plugging along, but I think the handwriting is on the wall. Now, somebody's going to

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say, "This is one of those doom and gloom kind of forecasts." But any private business in the country that overspends its revenue like our federal government overspends its revenue would be bankrupt, and the courts would declare them bankrupt. And the people they owed money would foreclose on them. Being the federal government this hasn't happened, but I don't think it can go on forever. I understand we're going to go seventy billion dollars in the hole this year, and the proposal is for, like, fifty billion or forty-three billion next year. Now this is more money than the country spent for the first hundred years it was in operation, so it just can't go on like that. I think the economics of the country is its primary problem. We have a Communist problem too, because Communism's growing all over the world. And we have withdrawn from the Far East, and we're having trouble in Israel and Africa, and all around where the Communist influence is growing. And there seems to be a movement in our Congress for us not to take any hand in bettering this Communism growth and the spread of Communism. So I think that that may become a problem too. But our number one problem is economics: the fact that we have so many people expecting to make a living without any effort.
JERRY LANIER:
Mr. Carter, has your paper taken a stand on the equal rights amendment? Do you have strong feelings about that?
W. HORACE CARTER:
Are you speaking about the sex one?
JERRY LANIER:
Yes, for women.
W. HORACE CARTER:
You know, equal rights a few years ago had to do with the blacks and the whites. So now we've come down to the women's lib conversation. We haven't editorialized on this. We have referred to it a time or two in some columns we've written, and I don't really know where we stand. I thought they were equal all along. I mean, I do know though [Laughter] that there have

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been women in jobs and a man in a job of the same capacity, and one drawing more money than the other. And I'd be against this; I think if they're doing the same job they ought to draw the same pay. And I suppose there's some merit in women's lib and in equal rights for sexes. I think that maybe we are putting a little too much emphasis on this, because I don't really think women generally have been persecuted too much. Most of the women I know almost laugh at equal rights. Most women I know feel like that they've been getting a pretty fair shake all along.
JERRY LANIER:
Oh, and finally, Mr. Carter, we're going into a bicentennial year: the country is two hundred years old now, and it's sort of a big year in American history. I was curious if you had any ideas about what would be a fitting celebration, or what does the country need to direct its priorities toward? As Americans now, what do you think we should do? You have personally some influence in the community here, and I was curious as to how you think Americans could be most affected positively by some sort of program in 1976.
W. HORACE CARTER:
Well, I don't know that I have any concrete proposals to offer here. I just know that some way we need to teach all the younger generation what this country has done for downtrodden people that came over here in the last two or three hundred years. And unfortunately we find that not enough appreciate what we've got. And if there's any way to help them to appreciate, and to grow in loyalty and patriotism (and this might have to be, again, through the school system and the churches, and perhaps the homes have the greatest influence of all)…. But we seem to have lost some of the appreciation of what we have. And, of course this is almost incidental, but I went to a Chamber of Commerce meeting here in town last week, and at each

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plate (there was about two hundred people attending in the school cafeteria) they had a little American flag. And it was put there because the whole decorating scheme for the meeting was one of patriotism and the bicentennial year. Each one of us had a little American flag; and I picked the little American flag up, and it said "Made in Japan." And this in itself kind of irritates me [Laughter] , because I think in this country we ought to be able to make our own flags at least. So I think we need to teach the people in this country to appreciate what we've got, and try to hold onto it. Now, everywhere you turn people are talking about the need for change, and demonstrating for change. And I don't know that what we've had has been so bad; I mean, I think that what we've had has been the best the world had to offer. And in the last six or eight or ten years I've travelled much of the known world (I mean, Russia and Poland and Switzerland, Spain and England and France, and all these countries). I haven't found anybody that had nearly as much as we have already had, and therefore I don't see this need for change. I think we need to wake up that even without the change (and I don't say that everything in the country's right) we're more right than anybody else is: that we have greater morality than most of the other countries have. We certainly have more possessions than anybody else has. We eat the best, we have the best homes and the best clothing—more cars than all the rest of them put together, I guess. (You go to Russia and they've got one for every three thousand people, and over here every family's got two!) And the things that we have are so much better than anybody else has, and more of it, that I think we've just got a great country and a great heritage. And I think we should make change only after a lot of thought. I don't think we ought to revolutionize how our country has been running. I think we've got a lot to offer just like

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it is. We mentioned threats a while ago, and I think that this ought to be said by somebody. And perhaps I'm not qualified to make this statement, but I think that one of the big threats to the country is the possibility that our labor unions may become so strong that they will strangle the free enterprise, and that they will make the price of products and merchandise such that we will no longer be competitive in the world market. And if this happens, I think that will be the end of democracy. [interruption]
I think the fact that a little country boy with very little opportunity can come to a country town like Tabor City (which depends entirely on tobacco and soybeans and strawberries and a few things like that to keep its economy going), the fact that he could come to a little town, start a newspaper and win the Pulitzer Prize and many of the other outstanding national awards and state awards that've been won is an indication of how great America really is. And I think that that alone speaks for our country, and the possibilities of anybody reaching some kind of a pedestal if he works at it and believes in it—as I believe in America.
JERRY LANIER:
Thank you very much, Mr. Carter. It's been a pleasure talking with you.
END OF INTERVIEW