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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 16 and 18, 1986. Interview C-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Sanford tries to avoid overtly courting African American voters

Sanford chose not to emphasize his appeal to African American voters in his 1986 Senate campaign, he reveals. Sanford avers his desire to avoid of thinking of voters as member of racial voting blocs.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 16 and 18, 1986. Interview C-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

The black vote in the primary, it's important to get the black vote. At the same time it can be, you can be tagged as the black candidate in the general election or second primary. You know we've seen that happen. What kind of thinking went into organizing or getting out the black vote?
None, absolutely didn't give that danger one thought. I declined to have any Blacks for Sanford Committee or Women for Sanford Committee. We just didn't want to perpetuate that split and division. We wanted to treat blacks as simply Democrats and citizens of North Carolina, and so we didn't really give any emphasis to that. Now we had a number of black people working. We had one in particular who was working with black leaders around the state but we didn't attempt to emphasize that. I, of course, don't even know how many blacks voted. I'm sure that information is available. I just haven't seen any need to take limited time to analyze it because I don't think it means anything much. Well, it does mean a whole lot. But to me, I'm trying my best, as we go along through the years, to get away from this business of talking about the black vote and the white vote. So I gave a great deal of attention to that when I was running for governor, when I was running against somebody that I knew would raise that issue, when it was a time when the race issue could be raised in a very bald way. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B] [TAPE 2, SIDE A] [START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
Well, you were saying if Broyhill had raised the race issue…
Yeah, I think if he had raised the race issue, it would have been damaging to him overall. A great many people would have then seen him in the light of Jessie Helms. It would have been more detrimental than helpful to him. I think that's generally so today. I don't think you can do it. Helms did it in a very devious way but it was always the underlying current. The fact that he voted against Martin Luther King's holiday, and that became the code word for the people that could be appealed to in that manner. But it was much less likely to get into this campaign. In any event, I don't remember our even discussing that possibility in the primary.