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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anne Barnes, January 30, 1989. Interview C-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Barnes lists the issues that concern her most

Barnes names the political topics that most concern her, including prison reform, poverty, women's rights, and education. In the end, she believes that many of the problems in America at the end of the twentieth century originate from the effects of poverty on children and the failure of government to mitigate the disadvantages that accompany that condition.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Anne Barnes, January 30, 1989. Interview C-0049. 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

KATHY NASSTROM:
If you could spend all your time working on issues that are personally important to you, what would those issues be?
ANNE BARNES:
Well, as I said, it's important to me to finish what I start. So I would continue with the issues that I've mentioned to try to bring them to some kind of conclusion, particularly the prison population problem. I do spend almost full time being a legislator. I'm not working at another job right now, and so I can give more time to it than some can, and I choose to do that. I'm spending most of my time working on issues as it is. If I were not doing the prison things right now, if we had moved along far enough that I felt I could slip out of that issue, I would like to spend more time getting back to the issues of poverty. I told you my early concerns about that, growing out of those years, so many years ago, when my husband was working with the North Carolina Fund, the Great Society years. I think we've moved so far away from the Great Society, so far from the ideal that Lyndon Johnson held up before us, that somehow we need to get back to addressing the issues of poverty and injustice in our society. That's an underlying concern of mine in almost everything that I do. The women's issues that I've worked on, much of that is economic. The education issues, the prison issues, the root of so many of those problems stem from the economic injustices and the way that the American Dream just isn't coming true for so many of our citizens. It seems to have taken a swing for the worse in the last eight years. I'd like to get back on the track of addressing these issues instead of treating the symptoms. The symptoms show up in prison-that I spent a great deal of time working with. . . . How did all these people, what are we going to do with all these people that we're being asked to incarcerate? How are we going to manage that offender population? In doing the statistical work and the research that I read, so many of these problems begin when these people are children, with child abuse and poverty and a lack of environment that encourages education and the kind of education that can be useful to people who are from underprivileged situations. Such a large percentage of the prison population are people who are illiterate. It has to tell you something. You have to take notice that something's happening earlier on that's filling up our prisons, and how, in our education system, can we address those problems early enough. How, with little children, can we get at the problems that are causing lives to go awry later on? I'm still extremely concerned about poverty, social injustice in our country and our state. If I had nothing else to do and no other assignments, I'd like to get back onto that issue and not be sidelined by the symptoms of it so much as trying to address the roots of those problems.