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Title: Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, May 18, 2001. Interview C-0329. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Hunt, James B., interviewee
Interview conducted by Fleer, Jack
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: 148 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 James B. Hunt, May 18, 2001. Interview C-0329. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0329)
Author: Jack Fleer
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, May 18, 2001. Interview C-0329. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0329)
Author: James B. Hunt
Description: 172 Mb
Description: 39 p.
Note: Interview conducted on May 18, 2001, by Jack Fleer; recorded in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by L. Altizer.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series C. Notable North Carolinians, 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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The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with James B. Hunt, May 18, 2001.
Interview C-0329. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Hunt, James B., interviewee


Interview Participants

    JAMES B. HUNT, interviewee
    JACK FLEER, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JACK FLEER:
An interview with Governor James B. Hunt for Wake Forest University and the Southern Oral History Program at Chapel Hill as part of a series of interviews with North Carolina former governors. The interview was conducted on May 18, 2001 at the office of Governor Hunt in Raleigh, North Carolina. The interviewer is Dr. Jack D. Fleer, Department of Politics, Wake Forest University, tape number 5-18-01-JBH. Let me make sure this thing is running.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Does that pick me up from here, you think?
JACK FLEER:
It should.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Okay.
JACK FLEER:
Governor, I am beginning with a series of questions about your early political interest and development. When did you begin thinking about a career in an elected public office?
JAMES B. HUNT:
[pause] Probably about the time that I got real active in the Young Democratic clubs. That would've been toward the latter part of my undergraduate days at N.C. State when I was student body president and when I helped start a Young Democratic club. I got to know people like Henry Hall Wilson and Bill Wood and Hugh Humphrey over in Greensboro and then in the state senate. About the time I finished college the campaign began for governor. I became very active for Terry Sanford and was involved in the John F. Kennedy race, but it was in the latter part of my undergraduate career that I began to think about it, not to run for governor per se but to run. But that's an area in which I though I could do some good, and it would be interesting. It would be fun. I would enjoy it and maybe have some skills in it.

Page 2
JACK FLEER:
Were members of your family interested in politics before that time or at that time?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes. Yes. My earliest memory of my family's interest was in 1948 when my family got very active in the campaign of Kerr Scott to be governor. We'd been very active in a farm organization called the Grange. My family had known the Scott's through the Grange. My family were sort of these rural progressives that thought rural people ought to have a good education, ought to have electrical power, ought to have telephones, ought to have paved roads. Kerr Scott proposed those things. The Democratic Party stood for those things. So I was pretty keenly aware of our interest in the governor's race. I guess I knew something, had heard of the Democratic Party. But I also as a youngster gosh I was eleven years old, and I remember election night in November of 1948, and I had been intrigued with Thomas Dewey. I had read a comic book, one of these true comics or something, and it portrayed him as a fighting district attorney, fighting for the people. So Dewey sounded good to me. I remember how shocked I was that my parents were as it turned out when I heard the returns come in, they were all for Truman because we mostly talked about the governor's race. That's when I found out, hmm, my folks are Democrats. This makes a difference from the top to the bottom. But we were still primarily concerned about state and local issues. Let me go back because I had had one earlier experience at Boys' State between my junior and senior years in high school that had had a right profound impact on me. I was candidate for lieutenant governor, did not win, was selected to go to Boys' Nation and went there and met Dwight D. Eisenhower and experienced that wonderful experience. That's the first time I really heard about the parties I guess was that would've been in '54. Thad

Page 3
Eure who used to always come and talk about that. They had had one from each party come and talk. Thad Eure did that so. But in terms of really getting engaged, it was the end of my college years. Again you just, you find something that is interesting, looks like it's worthwhile and then—and I didn't mean to get ahead of your questions—when Kerr Scott was governor, I saw the difference that a political official could make, or a public official, when he paved our road. I had driven those, I had driven in those ruts. But I mean I hadn't done a lifetime of it. I knew how deep those ruts were. I had seen cars get stuck in my country road. I saw some greater support for education. I saw Susie Sharp appointed as the first woman superior court judge and my mother appointed as the first woman member of the State Board of Public Health. I saw we had electricity and telephones, but many of our neighbors didn't, and I saw them get them because Kerr Scott was governor. It made a difference who was in office.
JACK FLEER:
[unclear]
JAMES B. HUNT:
That impressed me. That was impressed on me.
JACK FLEER:
Had your parents been active in the campaign itself? I know your father was a federal employee.
JAMES B. HUNT:
My father was under the Hatch Act. No, they didn't have a position in the campaign, but they felt very strongly about the candidates and the issues at stake.
JACK FLEER:
In your hometown I guess we can call Rock Ridge home. Is that right? In your hometown in addition to your parents, were there influences that came to bear on your formulating an interest in politics?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, not a whole lot locally. I lived in a county that had a pretty, a very conservative county government. I didn't live in a town. I lived out in the county. In

Page 4
fact my uncle was a county commissioner, and he was actually beaten in a campaign by a more conservative candidate. He was not, he was not liberal, but he was progressive, wanted to do things for the county, helped them get a new hospital and things like that. So I saw, rather than seeing too many candidates who were really progressive for the people and going to try to help change things and make your life better, I saw mainly people who were ultra-conservative and who would not make the kinds of public investments in schools and other things that we needed. I was turned off by that and knew that there had to be a better way. My family was always deeply interested in education. My mother was a teacher. We were always attuned to candidates who wanted to do something big to improve schools. That's why I responded to Terry Sanford when he came along as the person in my time who had made the strongest proposals to improve our schools, not a little bit but in a dramatic way.
JACK FLEER:
What you're talking about seems to me or reflects the idea that government can be a positive force in the lives of individuals. What you also refer to in terms of your uncle and his opponent, it seems like there was a lot of conservatism and maybe some resistance to government. Why do you think—
JAMES B. HUNT:
I call it ultra-conservatism, just really opposed to spending any money for schools or anything else.
JACK FLEER:
Why do you think your family took a position that government could be a positive force? Where do you think that came from because it's obviously still an influence in your life today?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, see it depends on how you define government. I define government as an organization we all belong to, have an equal vote in and one that has the authority and

Page 5
the resources to improve your lives especially in education and the infrastructure, roads and highways and so forth. I think that my family was progressive in philosophy, one, because they cared deeply about other human beings and their opportunities in life to improve themselves. They had the confidence and the motivation to want to change things and improve them. They were not willing to sit back and let fate run its course or let other people fend for themselves. I trace it directly to our Judeo-Christian heritage and our work ethic and our action ethic that we ought to do something to help others. It's the golden rule. Jesus the Christ talked about it. We took it very seriously, still do. We believe we have a responsibility to help people to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit those in prison and to help them have a good education and a good job. Those commandments I think we have to live out in our lives, and my family believed that, and they were very active. It wasn't just a matter of government. Hey, it was getting government to authorize a referendum so you could have a new hospital. You do it, and let us vote for it. It's us. Government is a means. It's a kind of tool we use. It isn't the only tool. Most of what we do to create jobs is done through the private sector, ought to be. I believe strongly in private enterprise. But I also know that you have to work through your government to kind of give people that opportunity to be educated so they can compete and be successful in that private sector.
JACK FLEER:
Did your own family's social situation put them in circumstances where they could be helpful to other people or were they people who needed that help?
JAMES B. HUNT:
No, we were in a position to help. We were not rich, but we were not poor. We had the benefit and the power that a good education gives you. So while we were not wealthy, we had enough. We were not beholden to anybody. We had the freedom to

Page 6
want to change things and to propose change and to work for change, which we did. We did it through civic organizations. We did it through this organization called the Grange. We did it in local things. We did it in our church, very, very active in our church. So what I learned at church and at Sunday school and what I believe today about what God wants us to do and will help us do and kind of the political tradition I grew up in and probably the fact that I lived in an area where there were a lot of people who were poor, who didn't have good jobs, who really needed a lot of help as opposed to growing up where everybody's got everything probably all worked together to build deeply within me this feeling about what's right and wrong and what love and caring commands us to do. Maybe the energy and drive, I don't know where that came from to do something about it, but certainly my parents had it. They lived it.
JACK FLEER:
You mentioned Kerr Scott. Would Franklin Roosevelt have been an important person in your political development and your family's political development?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes. I was not, I remember Franklin D. Roosevelt. I vaguely remember some fireside chats. I remember his death, and they played ‘Home on the Range.’ I remember where I was when he died as you hear people say. But I knew and my family knew what Franklin D. Roosevelt had done to save us as a country. We were particularly grateful for the farm programs. The more you're asking about this Jack, the more this is coming back to me. I would say the primary federal government issue so to speak in our family's life were the farm programs. Farmers had traditionally had boom and bust, mostly bust. They were poor as church mice. I've just been reading Jimmy Carter's book An Hour Before Dawn. Have you read it?
JACK FLEER:
I have read that, very recently.

Page 7
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, the people who live around me were like that. The farm programs of giving the farmers some control over how much they produced so that it would get a good price and make a profit and feed their families and have something was probably the strongest issue that we associated with government and with the Democratic Party. In fact when I was in FFA [Future Farmers of America] in my high school years, the speech I gave in the public speaking contest was about farm programs and my advocacy of them and how much good they had done for the farm people and for the country as a whole.
JACK FLEER:
So you were spreading the word of the good deeds.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah and talking about why this was important. In a world where most of the people were not agricultural, but where the truth needed to be told about production. They call it the production control and supply management programs now. Telling the truth about them instead of the people who criticized them and told things that were not true and just pretended like they were, farmers were a leach on the society.
JACK FLEER:
In the Kerr Scott-Johnson race in 1948 did you see that particular race as or campaign as being an important choice for the Democratic Party?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes, but not because I knew Mr. Johnson. I've learned a lot about it since. It was a crucial turning point both in terms of the issues and the new generation of leadership that came along associated with Kerr Scott. So I didn't know the other side. I just knew that they were the standpatters, the what did we call them, the kind of like the vested interest. The term may come to me while we're talking. Kerr Scott was for us, the people out there in the country where they didn't have paved roads; they didn't have electricity; they didn't have telephones. They couldn't get to town. We were held down.

Page 8
We were poor. We had very few opportunities. Kerr Scott was going to open that up and give us a chance to have a good life.
JACK FLEER:
Was that something that you and your parents and you have one brother, is that right? That you would talk about?
JAMES B. HUNT:
No. No.
JACK FLEER:
This was a very early part of your life.
JAMES B. HUNT:
No, I'd hear them talk about it, and it's hard to know how you were so conscious of it, isn't it? I can't answer that question. I wish my parents were, my mother's dead. By the way she was a strong, I guess you'd call a liberal, on race issues at that time like growing out of her days at Woman's College and so forth. I mean she wasn't an activist, but I knew how she felt and what she taught. It took a while for it to fully affect me. I don't know how that happened.
JACK FLEER:
But you don't recall sitting around the kitchen or—
JAMES B. HUNT:
No, I don't recall that.
JACK FLEER:
Table or anything.
JAMES B. HUNT:
No, I don't.
JACK FLEER:
And talking about these things.
JAMES B. HUNT:
It just kind of I heard them talk to other people. I knew, I'm sure I heard them talk to each other. Mainly I think it was a matter of issues. We did talk about issues. I knew how they felt about education. I knew how they felt about the importance of spending money to improve schools and give people a chance in life. I knew how much they valued education and thought that everybody ought to have it and it was necessary for a good future.

Page 9
JACK FLEER:
And your mother taught while your—
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes.
JACK FLEER:
At this age.
JAMES B. HUNT:
My mother did not teach. She'd been a teacher earlier in her life. By the way have I given you one of my books [First in the Nation]?
JACK FLEER:
I have this, yes. Thank you very much.
JAMES B. HUNT:
It tells a lot about my mother or a fair amount. Some good things. But she was a stay at home mom until I believe I was a junior in high school, and she went back to teaching in order to earn enough money for me to go to college and continue until my brother finished at Wake Forest.
JACK FLEER:
Your brother went to Wake Forest. I didn't realize that. So that showed her commitment to the importance of education for you as well as her contribution for other people. I know you mention in there the portion that I read the first couple of chapters that she was very close to the students, felt—as Bill Clinton would say—their pain if they had pain.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Or give them a little pain.
JACK FLEER:
That they were just not students, they were a part of her life. It seems to me that's part of what you're saying in there.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah, she cared about them. My mother was a very loving, caring sweet person, sweet as she could be, high standards, loved the English language, hurt when somebody misused it. But she really she thought every child was equal whether they were rich or poor, black or white. Not that we had integrated schools then, we didn't. She genuinely was committed. She thought there was the potential for being special in

Page 10
every one of them. She thought it was her duty as a teacher and then as a citizen who votes in elections and so forth to help them achieve their full potential. As that man down in the capitol [Governor Aycock] would've said ‘burgeon out all that's within them.’
JACK FLEER:
Right. Right. What about your father? What kind of influence did he have on your thinking?
JAMES B. HUNT:
My daddy was a very strong-willed, active, determined person who would speak out and who would work through organizations to make change. He was the major leader in the Grange in eastern North Carolina and one of the major leaders in the state of North Carolina focusing on farm programs. He was a soil and water conservationist, one of the first to join it when it was established but active in every county issue, schools, the hospitals, whatever came along. He was on the progressive side, and he was vocal, not shrill but vocal, and again he was a free man. He didn't owe his livelihood to anybody. He didn't work for some boss who would tell him, ‘Shut up. Keep your mouth shut about that. You can't speak out. You can't—.’ He could and he did. So I saw an example in my father I guess in a sense my father was the strong active community leader, very engaged in the issues. My mother was the very highly educated, liberal minded person with regard to equality with high, high standards about education and a sweetness and a caring and a love for human beings. That's kind of the mix that I had.
JACK FLEER:
That you had.
Now when you got into high school, Rock Ridge High School, is that where you went?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Right.
JACK FLEER:
You mentioned the FFA, which obviously was an important part of your life there—

Page 11
JAMES B. HUNT:
I was in the 4-H [a youth education program of the Cooperative Extension Service, a program of the USDA] a before that.
JACK FLEER:
4-H before that.
JAMES B. HUNT:
But actually the FFA was the one that had the most leadership activities.
JACK FLEER:
What kinds of leadership positions were you involved in, or what opportunities did you take while you were in high school that might have had some influence on your political development?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I was engaged in everything you could be engaged in just about. I guess two of the most important things I got involved in were the FFA, what we called parliamentary procedure contest. You ever heard of that?
JACK FLEER:
Oh yes.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Were you on one?
JACK FLEER:
I wasn't. I did not belong to the FFA.
JAMES B. HUNT:
The teams—
JACK FLEER:
But we had it in my high school.
JAMES B. HUNT:
And we had public speaking contests, and I was in all of it. I was probably the youngest person to ever make what we called a parliamentary procedure team in which you made motions and seconds and all kinds of things. [I] learned how to do it which was the reason I could become lieutenant governor, start presiding over the senate without ever having served a day in the legislature. But I was active in Beta Club, on the teams football and basketball, president of my class as we didn't have student government at that time. But I was president of the junior class and senior class and as I said active in those contests. So about everything where you had an opportunity to develop leadership

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skills and maybe show some potential I was involved in. I don't know whether there were issues in those days or not. I felt like there were when I went to college. But I think it was just sort of a natural thing of being vocal, being active, having been encouraged to do it when you were young, you know.
JACK FLEER:
Did you have any thoughts during these times when you were involved in these campaigns, I mean these leadership positions, that you would have a public career or was this just Jim Hunt being involved in high school government?
JAMES B. HUNT:
No, I didn't. I think two things were happening. One, I was developing a concern and an interest and a caring about issues kind of how good your schools were, whether or not you could attract good teachers and keep them, whether or not you had health care in your community. Probably you've read somewhere we'd go to town to the medical clinic and have to sit there and wait three hours. I got [it], burned me up that you'd have to wait three hours to see a doctor. I said, ‘I'm going to do something. If I ever get the chance to do something about it, I'm going to.’ Roads, if you've ever lived on a dirt road and wanted it paved badly, you never get over that. They're always bad of course. Later on I learned the term infrastructure and all that stuff. But I was developing an interest and caring about the issues, and I think I was developing some leadership skills in order to express myself, to motivate people, to pull them together, to build teams, to set goals and objectives and work towards them.
JACK FLEER:
So you did feel like that was occurring at that time.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah. Yeah, that's what you do in these youth organizations. That's what I later did at NC State in student government.

Page 13
JACK FLEER:
Is it true as I've read that when you were on the farm you actually had some cows named for political persons?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Oh yeah. Later for my girlfriends, but that was common though. We named dogs, cows, everything. Oh yeah. I named, I had one named Adlai Stevenson. I had one named Hubert Humphrey. So that was kind of early on but later—
JACK FLEER:
Was that typical among people your age?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Oh, but when I really started buying some with my own money that I earned in the summertime, I started naming them for girlfriends. You've probably heard some of those stories.
JACK FLEER:
No, I'd be interested.
JAMES B. HUNT:
There's one that's, see I would name. I would buy a new heifer. God, I'd spend hundreds of dollars. I might spend four or five hundred dollars for a pure bred Holstein heifer. We had a dairy farm. I'd milk in the summertime. That's part of how I earned my money and some other times during the year. But so I thought it would be neat if I would name my fancy new high priced heifer for my girlfriend. The only problem was I would change girlfriends. So one year I went out to the state fair, and I took two heifers. One was named for my current girlfriend, and one was named for my ex-girlfriend. These heifers would be in generally in different classes. They were different ages you see. Lead them in and lead them around. You'd get a blue ribbon or a red ribbon or yellow ribbon or something like that. That was fine as long as they were in different classes. But I then they'd take the top ones and put them all together. That's when the trouble came—
JACK FLEER:
I can imagine.

Page 14
JAMES B. HUNT:
Because the heifer named for my previous girlfriend ranked higher than the one named for my current girlfriend, and the word got back to Rock Ridge High School, and it was not funny. You might think it was funny.
JACK FLEER:
It was painful.
JAMES B. HUNT:
It wasn't funny then. That girlfriend of mine said—. I talked my way out of that I guess.
JACK FLEER:
I guess. Apparently you did. But you did have such an interest in politics that you would chose the names of political leaders.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes. I don't think it was all that serious, but somebody I admired.
JACK FLEER:
It's an unusual. [unclear]
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's right.
JACK FLEER:
You went on to North Carolina State University. It is said about your class at North Carolina State that it might have been one of the most talented, ambitious classes in the history of North Carolina State. There are a number of people in that group, and I don't know whether it was just your class or people during that period of time. Can you talk about that group of people that you associated with?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, they weren't all in the same class.
JACK FLEER:
No.
JAMES B. HUNT:
But we were within a couple of classes of each other. There was me, Tom Gilmore in my class, Eddie Knox and Phil Carlton in the class right after us. We were all together in student government. The truth is the people that had come along in the FFA many of whom had sort of been my proteges were the, became student government officers. In fact I think Norris Tolson—. I think we had six student body presidents in a

Page 15
row that had been active in FFA. Many of which had been state presidents in FFA like I was. So there was a, I think that was partly because farm boys at that time were more—. Some of us were more politically aware, had been touched more by politics and farm programs and efforts to provide opportunities in rural North Carolina, had had more opportunities, the FFA, 4-H too, but FFA, the finest youth leadership organization in America, was, still is I expect. Nowhere else would you learn public speaking and parliamentary procedure and have a chance to really practice it and become skilled at it in the way that we did. That was an exceptional group of people that were at NC State at that time. Many of us, all of us that I just mentioned became very active in the Young Democrats and then got involved in political campaigns later on. I worked actively for Terry Sanford. I guess all those guys did, but six years, four years later Eddie Knox was over there working for Dan K. Moore. Whereas Gilmore and Phil Carlton and I worked actively for Richardson Preyer. We worked generally together through our political times until Eddie split off from me later on.
JACK FLEER:
Yes, I read about that. Back to when you were at North Carolina State, other than that group of close friends many of whom had been in the FFA were there other developments or influences that came to bear on your political thinking and your interest in politics that you could mention?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I would say in my political science courses, particularly those I took under Abe Holtzman, I began to see the difference in the parties. Remember these are the days when the conservative party was dominated by the old guard, the Taft element. By the way some of the Tafts are good now. I've got a good friend named Taft in Ohio who I guess is Robert Taft's son, grandson. So I became, I began to be sensitized

Page 16
to or became sensitized to political issues generally. But I continued to follow the farm economy and the farm programs. I was especially outraged at the policies, the Republican policies under the Ezra Taft Bensons and those people who tried to tear down the farm programs that had helped us to have prosperity on the farms. By the way we haven't had any since then hardly. I took a course in college in—what's it called—something about Stuart, no what was his name the guy that taught that course. But it was a course in agriculture history about the ways of rack and ruin in the agricultural economy throughout our history. Where people would overproduce and prices would fall to disastrous levels, and it just happened over and over and over again throughout, no stability, no profit in it over time. Then of course I became very interested in education. More and more aware of what I had lacked in my own education. I was getting an undergraduate degree in education did my practice teaching out here at Cary.
JACK FLEER:
What was this, agricultural education?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Agricultural education, yes. And became more and more aware of how badly we were doing in our public schools and how unfair it was and how counterproductive it was for our economy. So when Terry Sanford came along, I was ready for him. North Carolina was ready for him. I was ready for him. I threw myself into his campaign wholeheartedly.
JACK FLEER:
Now you had been a student government leader also at North Carolina State. I think you had been student body president on two occasions.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Right. Right. Right.
JACK FLEER:
Was this group that you were associated with and Abe Holtzman and these people like Phil Carlton, Tom Gilmore and Norris Tolson and others were these people

Page 17
beginning to develop an idea that they could make a difference in North Carolina politically?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I don't think we saw ourselves as running for office at that time. I think we saw ourselves as being a part of a team that was making a difference then and could make a difference in the future. My guess is the first time we ever signed up in a campaign was in the campaign of 1960.
JACK FLEER:
The Sanford campaign.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah.
JACK FLEER:
All of them were in that group.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah.
JACK FLEER:
No division at that time.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah. Exactly right. Not much since.
JACK FLEER:
And not much since. Yes, I understand that.
JAMES B. HUNT:
There were others. You've got David Weinstein down here who managed, co-managed my campaign for student government president. And a number of others, if I had time I could go back and think of some others. But anyhow we weren't thinking about running for office, but we wanted to make a difference, and we were activists by nature, and we had some leadership skills. So I guess we were kind of coming along and getting ready even though we didn't know what we were getting ready for.
JACK FLEER:
But you were ready you said for Terry Sanford.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Right.
JACK FLEER:
What was it about the Terry Sanford campaign and candidacy that appealed to you?

Page 18
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, he was a continuation of the Kerr Scott tradition of standing up for the average man and being for jobs and opportunities, a general progressive image and being willing to fight the old guard. That's what we called it, the old guard. That's what I couldn't think of a while ago. Second and most important, he was for education. The way he was going to change the state was to change the schools and give us a far better education. Third, he was a young vigorous charismatic figure, political figure that young people, modern kind of people I think could identify with and feel strongly about and want to be involved in helping be a part of the team.
JACK FLEER:
What did you do in that campaign?
JAMES B. HUNT:
In that campaign I was chairman of the Young Voters for Terry Sanford, Young College Voters for Terry Sanford, I guess. I'm not sure of the name we used. It was my job to organize the college campuses for Terry Sanford. I recruited a number of people, two that I can mention to you. One was Bill Wichard, now former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, before that a state senator, before that member of the house and now dean of the law school at Campbell University. He and one of his colleagues led the Terry Sanford campaign at Chapel Hill. I went to the campus and recruited them. I went to East Carolina and recruited the student government president, Glenn Jernigan, former state senator and others around the state. So I was working for Terry; we were working for the schools. We were excited about a new wave, a new generation of leaders. I guess John Kennedy called them a new generation of Americans. But we were also developing a lot of new leaders. This was the first time colleges had been organized for a political candidate. I was getting to do it.
JACK FLEER:
Was that your idea to organize on the college campuses?

Page 19
JAMES B. HUNT:
No, it was not my idea. No. Wilson Woodhouse recruited me to do that. He was head of Young Voters for Terry Sanford. I remember him coming to my house. I was living in a mobile home. We call it a trailer, thirty-six by eight. I can tell you exactly how big it was out here in a trailer park in Cary. He and his wife came to our house and recruited me. I don't know if he was married then or not. Maybe he just came alone. But he came and talked to me about being chairman of College Young Voters for Sanford. I liked it. I believed it was a good thing to do. So I took it on. I traveled all over the state to college campuses.
JACK FLEER:
Did you find at that time a lot of interest on those campuses?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes. I mainly went to see people who were active in Young Democrats because I was already active in that. In fact I was probably that year college vice president for the statewide YDC, a position we had created a couple of years before that.

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[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JAMES B. HUNT:
Activities of course, state student legislature and so forth. I'd just go see the student government president and try to get him or her to be the leader for Terry Sanford.
JACK FLEER:
Had there been an organization, you as a student government president at North Carolina State, had there been an organization of student government presidents that provided you with contacts.
JAMES B. HUNT:
No, there was not. There was a state student legislature. That came the closest to being an organization. It seems like the student body president at Carolina and NC State and maybe at that time Woman's College but those are the only, aren't there four universities in the Consolidated University before we had the whole system.
JACK FLEER:
Yes.
JAMES B. HUNT:
What was the other one?
JACK FLEER:
Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Greensboro—
JAMES B. HUNT:
Greensboro. Is there a fourth one? I can't name a fourth one. Maybe it was just those three.
JACK FLEER:
Just been those three.
JAMES B. HUNT:
They got together from time to time but not like they do now and have for the last probably twenty years or so.
JACK FLEER:
Now did those contacts that you made at that time with these leaders on these various campuses were they contacts that have been beneficial to you in later years?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Absolutely. They were the base of my support. All the contacts that I made, my friends at NC State who went out to become agriculture teachers and county agents and farm leaders all over the state, my contacts in law school, students that I went to law

Page 21
school with who went out to become attorneys across the state, my contacts in student government, some involvement with education which is where I started sort of my campaign when I ran for lieutenant governor, all of that. I had, I don't know that I had a card file, which is what I should have had, but I knew where to go and find those names and addresses. I had this organization developing based on all those contacts. Plus all the contacts from the Grange, some friends I knew in the Farm Bureau. I was building a team.
JACK FLEER:
So you were at this point at least accumulating lots of names as you were building a team.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I didn't know what I was going to run for. I didn't know I was going to run. But I just I've always been a team builder. I've always had goals that I've worked for. I was finding people who could get a job done, who cared, who would be involved and who could make a difference.
JACK FLEER:
So you had farmers; you had attorneys; you had student body people, presidents and other leaders. What other components of that team would be most important?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Educators.
JACK FLEER:
Educators.
JAMES B. HUNT:
These guys who were in FFA and who majored in agricultural education were vo-ag teachers, became county agents. They also became school principals and superintendents and community college presidents.
JACK FLEER:
You kept in touch with these people.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah.

Page 22
JACK FLEER:
Would these be what you called the keys in various counties?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, at that point they were my keys.
JACK FLEER:
Eventually.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Later on that became kind of a, these were key friends I would say. Later on we developed a, which Terry had done, a system of having a key person that was the key one person in that county, maybe a couple. But yes, they were sort of early on, I didn't use that term, but they were my friends. They were people I knew; they were people I knew could make a difference.
JACK FLEER:
What do you think it was, Governor, that caused you at some point to say, ‘Yes, I am going to run for public office’?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Jack, I don't know. I was practicing law in Wilson County, active in Young Democrats, beginning a family, caring deeply about the schools, dissatisfied with the stand pat leadership and had seen Terry Sanford give us a new kind. Richardson Preyer one of the finest leaders ever to come along proposed to continue that. I had seen Bob Scott come along and supported him very strongly. That was when I was state president of the Young Democrats. I didn't talk about that to you I guess. I ran for state president of the Young Democrats in fall of '67 and was no, yes, fall of '67, served during the fall of '67 and '68. When during the campaign (and Tim Valentine was the state party chairman) I vigorously and actively organized the counties and the colleges. I really built it up a lot with others' help. But in thinking about it Kerr Scott had come along and led us in the right direction vigorously, strongly, powerfully. Terry Sanford did a, took it again especially in education which to me was the most important issue. Dan Moore I know in retrospect was a good governor. Because I had worked for Preyer I didn't think

Page 23
he was as progressive as he ought to be. The more I study about him the more I realize the good things he did especially for children and so forth. But in '68 Bob Scott almost lost to Jim Gardner. Jim Gardner was from my neck of the woods. I knew he didn't stand for what I believe in. So I think I was looking at the scene and had seen these great heroes of mine serve and move North Carolina forward, and then in '68 we almost lost it. Somebody who I would've thought would turn us back. In '72 where was the leadership going to come from? We had a good candidate for governor, Skipper Bowles who unfortunately lost. He would've been a great governor, a great governor. The longer I live the more I realize what a good governor he would've been. But who else? Where was the next generation of leadership going to come from? That's when I started weighing what should I do? Again I had just gotten my law practice going. I remember being at church one day, and I don't remember the topic of the sermon, but it was sort of about being willing to take a risk. I'm sure it was to live for the Lord. Do the right thing in your life. But you can't be certain how it's going to turn out. But you have to be willing to have faith and take a risk to do the right thing. This was about and I had already begun, I think this is along after I had already begun to, I'd written to Bert Bennett. I was kind of feeling around you know. I'd gone around. As YDC president I'd gone all over the state speaking to YDC clubs. I remember saying to myself, ‘Now listen. How will I even make a living if I devote myself for a whole year to a political race?’ You drive yourself. You don't have any drivers. I didn't have a campaign budget. I didn't, I wasn't wealthy. I didn't have a wealthy family. I figured up, I said, ‘Well you know as a lawyer I've got enough fees coming in that will last me for a year. I can feed my family for a year. At the end of that year, it'll be gone.’ These fees, if you handle

Page 24
estates, you know within three months, six months that estate will be closed, and you'll have this money coming in roughly. But it was a big risk for somebody like me who was of very modest means, young, very young, not part of a famous political family, to get out there and do it. But the preacher's sermon, he will never know it, had a powerful effect on me, and so it gave me the courage to step out there and take the risk and commit myself to doing it.
JACK FLEER:
You said you had already contacted Bert Bennett by this time. What was the nature of that contact and would you talk about the role of a Bert Bennett in your political development?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Bert of course had been the campaign manager for Terry Sanford and had been party chairman. I can't remember exactly what Bert said to me, but he was at least open to the idea.
JACK FLEER:
Had you written him to say I'm interested or—
JAMES B. HUNT:
Thinking about it.
JACK FLEER:
Thinking about it.
JAMES B. HUNT:
What do you think? I might have even talked about several possibilities in terms of the council of state. I don't know if I've got that letter, what he wrote me back. I don't know if I've got it or not. One of these days I've got to go through all my stuff.
JACK FLEER:
That's right.
JAMES B. HUNT:
In any event Bert was open to the idea. Those were during the days when Bert was very active, not trying to be a power. He'd lost his race for the senate up there. But completely loyal to his friends and supportive of progressive candidates and

Page 25
appreciative of people that had worked with him and helped, and when I started running of course, he very actively helped me put it together.
JACK FLEER:
Now did that mean that you were sort of adding to your resources to build support in the state or was Bert Bennett part of the organization?
JAMES B. HUNT:
No. No. I would say that was stepping up to the major leagues. I'd worked with all these what do you call these farm teams. I had a strong support from the farm team organization around the state. But when Bert supported me and put his full resources into my campaign and wrote and contacted every friend he had in the state, and if you were a friend of Bert Bennett's, you were a friend. He was your friend.
JACK FLEER:
Yeah.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I remember he would always, if I ever see him at something, he didn't start talking about politics. He started talking about your family, your children. It was that kind of relationship. People would do anything in the world for him. The most honest man I ever saw in politics. Never doing something so he could get something out of it. I might add making John Brown sure his candidates didn't.
JACK FLEER:
Didn't get anything out of it?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Didn't get indebted to people. His term was don't let them have a string on you which means they could pull your string and get you to do something. It's not right.
JACK FLEER:
If I remember correctly, Bert Bennett was actually considering running for the governorship or at least some people were promoting him during the late 1960s.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I believe that's right. I think that, well now let's see here. Terry served '60 to '64. Didn't Bert run for the senate in '66?
JACK FLEER:
I think that's right because it was right after I went to Winston-Salem.

Page 26
JAMES B. HUNT:
One of those years when it was just a Republican landslide. After that I do not know what his thoughts were. All of us loved him and would've supported anything he wanted to run for. But I think he probably made it clear after that state senate race that he wasn't going to run.
JACK FLEER:
It was a disappointment to him.
You said you explored possibly different offices, council of state offices, but you did decide on the lieutenant governorship. Why did you do that?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well the office had been made full-time at a very modest salary I might add. But I thought it was, it offered potential. I mean what are you in this business for, to make change and in my case especially to improve education dramatically. I wasn't running for an office. I was running to get something done. The lieutenant governor was the president of the senate, and he was the presiding officer of the senate, appointed committees, and referred bills. It was a powerful position. When I got in it, some of the older senators tried to take that power away. They didn't do it.
JACK FLEER:
During your term.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Oh yeah.
JACK FLEER:
Which they did do of course eventually.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah, later on. But yeah I could, I knew I could change things. I could improve things. I very actively worked at that when I was lieutenant governor.
JACK FLEER:
Now you said you were particularly interested in maybe even motivated by education and there is a position of superintendent of public instruction that could have given you maybe or would it have given you maybe as much of a platform to promote education as the lieutenant governorship did.

Page 27
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's a very important position I had always associated with a full-time professional, long term educator which I now realize it doesn't have to be. We've got an excellent man there now. But I know I was interested in the policies and the budgets that come through the legislature, changing education that way. Back in those days if you want to say what's the number one thing, you say teacher's salaries. I now know it's a lot more complex than that. It's standards and salary and student standards and accountability for the system and all the things I talked about—
JACK FLEER:
Early development and all that.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah. But in fact Terry used the term quality education. That was enough back then to tell us who was who. Later on it wasn't nearly enough to tell us what you need to do. But I was thinking about how do we change this state. Do I get involved in it? Do I need to get involved in it? Can I be a real factor here? I thought I could. I didn't have a, though I talked about some very good issues in that race. I don't know if you know much about the issues in that race.
JACK FLEER:
If you would talk about them.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I'll talk about some of them. I ran on putting in kindergartens. So did Jim Holshouser incidentally. I probably talked more about it than anybody did.
JACK FLEER:
Bob Scott had already started that program to some extent.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I think there was a little pilot project.
JACK FLEER:
A pilot program.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I forget exactly how much. I talked about land use planning. I talked about modernizing the legislature, putting in electronic voting, having staffs for the legislature,

Page 28
having a code of ethics for the legislature. I was strong for raising teacher pay. I'd have to go back and research the rest of these.
JACK FLEER:
That's fine.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Those are some of them.
JACK FLEER:
Let me get to the larger question about using or occupying that particular office because while Bob Scott had occupied that office and did become the governor in 1968. You had to go all the way back to (O. Max) Gardner to any previous lieutenant governor in modern times who had used that office. Maybe Mr. Philpott might have been able to use it if he had lived. We don't know. I know that Terry Sanford thought that was a possibility for him. But a lot of people didn't see either the potential in that office or thought the possibility of realizing that potential by being in that office. If you were interested in changing the state and you probably knew you weren't going to be able to do that simply in the lieutenant governorship, you could get started there but that—
JAMES B. HUNT:
It's logical to say, ‘Well, you were just getting ready to run for governor.’ But I wasn't. I thought Skipper Bowles would be elected although we did have a one-term limit in those days. I wanted to be a part of a progressive team to move North Carolina forward. Of course when I won, especially when Skipper lost, then I had a whole lot more responsibility as the party leader. I worked very hard at it, and it was very hard to do. I worked actively for getting the Coastal Area Management Act through. Holshouser supported it and proposed it. But I got it through the senate, and Julian Allsbrook would've killed it. I supported, actively supported education appropriations. [Phone ringing] [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]

Page 29
JACK FLEER:
Governor, we were talking about the idea of using the lieutenant governor's position to be a factor in the state in terms of moving the state forward. Can you talk about how you saw that happening in that position?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, first let me say to you that I was a very active lieutenant governor. I might have been the first one ever with a quote program, not necessarily with a program that I sponsored and got initiated but taking a position on virtually every issue and pushing hard and working actively to get them through. That was the case on education issues especially appropriations, passing public school kindergarten, phasing that in, later phased in Smart Start in a similar kind of way, working for conservation and environmental issues like the Coastal Area Management Act, supporting what I thought was good whether it was Governor Holshouser's program or not. A lot of Democrats didn't like that. They thought I ought to fight the Republican governor. I was issue oriented. I was in it for, I agreed with Governor Holshouser on many things. I still do and have a great, great admiration for him.
JACK FLEER:
Now a number of people at that time might have felt, a number of people let's say in the North Carolina Senate, might have felt that you were not a part of the North Carolina Senate. You were an executive official. You had not been in state government—
JAMES B. HUNT:
Prior to that I hadn't been in the senate.
JACK FLEER:
Had not been in the senate.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Can I get you anything to drink here?
JACK FLEER:
If you have something, sure that would be fine. Turn this—

Page 30
JAMES B. HUNT:
The senate. Listen, I was young. I had never been in the legislature. I might have been viewed as an upstart. I had all these ideas about issues. There were several things that made it tough to work effectively.
JACK FLEER:
If you were sympathetic to Holshouser on issues, even on issues, that was also a problem wasn't it.
JAMES B. HUNT:
That was not a plus in the eyes of some of them. That wasn't clear early on. He'd won, and these were Democratic kinds of issues. Good gosh. But I really had my hands full leading that senate.
JACK FLEER:
How could you do it because I've talked with Governor Scott for example who had also been lieutenant governor with Governor Moore? You get the impression from not only him but other reading that I've done that the lieutenant governor is not supposed to be an active leader. He's supposed to be just a figurehead.
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's not what I ran for. That wasn't what my life was about. Mine was about being active and being a leader and getting things done. That's the I think the theme you'll see running through my life getting things done, change things, make improved opportunities for people especially for people who haven't had much of a chance. I just worked at it, Jack. I remember after being elected lieutenant governor being up here when we had a big snowstorm and I couldn't get home because I was living in Rock Ridge. My wife was building a house the year I was running. I stayed up here days on end trying to figure out how to appoint the committees. I asked, I got some input from the senators. But also was figuring out who would get something done for me now or for North Carolina but be willing to respond to my leadership. I wasn't going to

Page 31
try to dictate to them, but I didn't want to put people in who were opposed to what I believed in, what the Democratic Party stood for and what I'd run on.
JACK FLEER:
[Thank you so much.]
JAMES B. HUNT:
[Thank you Sheila. Sheila I'll be leaving at five. So if y'all can just have my stuff ready for me, hear.] I remember asking Kenneth Royal if he'd be willing to be on the education committee. I found out he had been on the school board in Durham County years before. He hadn't been on the education committee in years. He was about the boss of the legislature. I don't think he wanted to be on the education committee. But I wasn't, I don't think I asked him to be the chairman. I just wanted him to be on it because I thought he had a good background, and he was a strong man. He was willing to do it. I tried to be fair to the members of the senate. But I was picking committees not just to put them somewhere or to give everybody one of their first choices. I was picking committees to try to get action on issues that I thought were important actions that were important for North Carolina.
JACK FLEER:
Did you face resistance doing that?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah. Some of them didn't like what I appointed them to, but not overwhelming. We developed a good relationship. I worked well with them, and I won't say I won them over, but we developed a good I think working relationship. I think they thought I was a fair presiding officer. But again I was the president of the senate. In the debate on the Coastal Area Management Act, Senator Julian Allsbrook was determined it was not going to pass. He was a powerful man, had the longest seniority in the senate, sat on the front row right to the right of the, when you looked down, there he was in the front. Longest serving man in the senate. Very articulate in those days. When the

Page 32
Coastal Area Management Act came to the floor, I think it had already passed the house with Bill Wichard's help and others. Holshouser's bill rather. When it came to the senate floor, Julian Allsbrook I bet he had three dozen amendments all catfish amendments to weaken the bill or kill it. I did him the courtesy of recognizing him for the first six motions to amend, but he still had two handfuls. After the sixth one I recognized other people. He never got recognized again, and he was furious. In fact after the sixth one he stood up for his next amendment. I didn't recognize him, and I think he tried to appeal the decision to the chair, but he didn't win. It takes two-thirds over the chair. See I was determined to get that bill passed, going to do it fairly, but I was going to make sure that the will of the senate prevailed. I was very active in encouraging them to support it.
JACK FLEER:
So you used your power or your ability to preside and to recognize in a way that fostered the particular issues that you were interested in and that did not cause you great difficulty?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Oh yeah. Sure it did. There was a fair amount of resentment among members of the senate, about all Democrats.
JACK FLEER:
Yes.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Although the Republicans got a pretty good group the second I guess 1974, one of those years when you had a big turnover. The house speakers well Carl (Stewart)—Gaston County—Carl, I'll think of it. He and I had were generally on the same wavelength politically in terms of political philosophy, but Jim Ramsey, a pretty moderate guy but didn't have an interest in legislation. I remember trying to sit down and say, ‘Look if you'll help me with this bill, what are you interested in?’ He didn't

Page 33
have anything he was interested in. Nice fellow, fairly moderate in his views. He didn't have a program. He didn't have a program to move the state forward. So it was trying to deal with the senate, then trying to get the house, ‘Let's y'all get stuff through too’ was really, really tough. But nobody ever said it was going to be easy. It was a pretty good preparation.
JACK FLEER:
The other part of your relationship was of course your relationship with the governor. During this time some in the senate were trying to make it difficult for Governor Holshouser to be governor.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Oh yeah. Trying to take his powers away.
JACK FLEER:
Take his powers away, doing a variety of things. How did you handle that?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I opposed taking his power away because I thought it was wrong for the state. The governor had little enough power. He didn't have succession; he didn't have the veto. I didn't do it for Governor Holshouser even though I like and respect him and had a good, I think he'll tell you we had a good relationship.
JACK FLEER:
He has told me that.
JAMES B. HUNT:
But I just thought it was wrong for North Carolina. Why would you come in here and strip his powers? He's the leader of the state. So I opposed those things, and some of the party faithful got upset with me, not out, it wasn't any vote or huge outcry. They couldn't understand why I wasn't helping strip this Republican governor especially after he had had that helicopter fly around and fire all those people.
JACK FLEER:
That didn't endear him to people. Who were the major, what were the major factions in the party that you had to deal in your party, that you had to deal with at this

Page 34
time? There must have been some other people in the senate who were saying this guy using this for—
JAMES B. HUNT:
I guess they were. There was a kind of [a] power vacuum to be honest with you. We didn't know how to deal with losing the governorship. Skipper remained the titular head. He had his people, his party chairs and things like that, state party chairs. But I just worked at doing my job. I literally had not decided early on to run for governor. I knew why I was there, to try to do things, same kind of things that I'd run on. I'd always worked on and for other people's campaigns. So I just worked at it day by day pushing hard, leading on issues, trying to get the senate to come along, dealing with the house as best I could, supporting good things that the governor was proposing. He proposed raising teacher's salaries, very significantly. I told you about kindergarten, and I was a very active supporter. I probably supported his education proposals and Coastal Area Management Act and things like that stronger than any lieutenant governor had ever supported a governor. I think the lieutenant governors by and large had been kind of neutral on issues.
JACK FLEER:
Right, they had been.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I was very active in support of what I thought was good.
JACK FLEER:
So while you were lieutenant governor, when did you begin focusing on, you had a limit on your term, what's next?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, the question was what do you do at the end of it? I very consciously put off that decision. You ought to work at the job you're in, and if you do that job well and other opportunities open up, then you'll have a good shot at it. If you don't do your job well, you ought not to get it. So I never spent my time thinking about that. People

Page 35
said I did, and I was very active with the party by the way. In those days and here was the party down, lost the governorship. I was all around the state, all the time speaking to political groups and civic groups and everybody.
JACK FLEER:
You came to Boys' State I recall.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Listen. I bet you, I bet I made more speeches during the four years than anybody ever served in any office. Elaine Marshall may be making more now. I was really active out there getting around, but I was learning the state see. That's one of the bad things I see about the television age we're in now. You can run for governor today and win and never been in half the counties and not have a picture of them. I've got a picture of every county in North Carolina. I can tell you how to get to the county seat. I can tell you friends there. I can tell you experiences I've had there. I can tell you what the economy is like, what life is like. I've been at most of the schools, I mean in most of the counties I've been in their schools. It's imprinted on my mind every area of the state which I am just very grateful for. I think it's been invaluable in helping me be an effective leader for North Carolina.
JACK FLEER:
Must be.
JAMES B. HUNT:
But that's the way I worked at it as lieutenant governor. If I'd never run for governor, I'd still have been proud of what we got done, what I was a part of.
JACK FLEER:
From that experience as lieutenant governor did you feel that the governor and the lieutenant governor should be a team as they're elected?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I didn't have strong feelings about it one way or another. I found as I attended lieutenant governor's conferences around that you had a split situation in a lot of states and some of the time, plenty of times you'd have a Democratic governor and

Page 36
Republican lieutenant governor. I thought that I knew things. There were problems with it, but I didn't develop a firm position about the two running together. I did think that the lieutenant governor needed to have certain responsibilities. For example I was very active on the state board of education. My first act was to turn around a policy they had just decided which was to do away with the teacher exams. I very actively worked with Dallas Herring to turn that around against Craig Phillips to put the teacher exam back then. We called it the NTE then. I thought we needed to make sure that teachers were good. I studied, I went to every board meeting. I really studied what was going on in education, why things weren't working. I'd go in classrooms, and they'd say we have five non-readers in this third grade class, and I thought that was appalling. I was determined I was going to change that if I had the chance later on which I did with my primary reading program in my first term. We did, I shouldn't say ‘I’ did. I worked on it. I helped lead it. But I was very active on the Commission on Indian Affairs, which I guess no governor had been to many meetings. I was there. I cared about the Indian people. I learned about them. I got to know them well, and I've always had huge support from them. I was active with Indians supporting things for African Americans. We never talked by the way back yonder about my becoming a strong supporter of equal rights and fair treatments for minorities, but that happened during my college days.
JACK FLEER:
You mentioned that was a very important legacy of your mother that that was something she had felt very strongly about.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes. It was just a matter of right and wrong. But when we went through the segregation debates and all of that, I can remember hearing Al Lowenstein speak. Did you ever hear him speak?

Page 37
JACK FLEER:
I did.
JAMES B. HUNT:
How powerful he was. How dramatic he made these issues. It just came clear to me, ‘Hey, you cannot be a Christian and believe in what Jesus taught and be committed to making it happen on earth and support discrimination and segregation.’ You can't do it. It's wrong. We've got a responsibility to change it. I never believed you could just bow something and go away. If you believe in it strongly, if it's a really important issue, you'd got to get involved and fight for it or against whatever it is.
JACK FLEER:
The race like in 1972 when you ran for the lieutenant governorship, was that an issue at that point?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Not really. There was a little mumbling around that I had been in a civil rights march in Wilson County. I had gone on the, I'd been asked as a young lawyer there to be on the what we called the Good Neighbor Council way back then set up by Terry Sanford. I said, ‘No, I just don't believe I've got time for it.’ Then Martin Luther King was killed, and I told them that I, I think I called up the mayor or somebody else and said, ‘Listen, I'll serve on it.’ They said, ‘Well, we've got a kind of a memorial service that's going to be held at a black Baptist church.’ We want you to come. So I went. At the end of the service they announced now we're going to have a vigil or procession down to the courthhouse. I never thought about it being a march, but it was a part of the service and we're going to conclude with a prayer. I joined in. Some people around the edges tried to say I was a civil rights activist, and I'd marched in this that and the other. It was pretty, that was still had a lot of potency in those days now.
JACK FLEER:
Back when you were in Chapel Hill those marches were going on.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Right.

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JACK FLEER:
When you were in the law school because I was in school at the same time that you were. In fact my wife and I were talking last night about these memories that we had about the marches in Chapel Hill and members of my family coming from Missouri and being sort of startled by these marches on Franklin Street. But those were not part, you didn't become involved in those activities.
JAMES B. HUNT:
No, I was not an activist in that sense. I had come to feel pretty strongly, and I increasingly felt strongly about what was right and wrong and giving people full and equal rights. I feel more strongly about it now. Every year I feel more strongly about it, that and protecting the environment are two things that I feel more and more strongly about and giving everybody an equal opportunity for good education. But to get back the, some of that, there were people who, there were some people who picked at things in those days, but in the race for governor I don't think that was ever much of an issue.
JACK FLEER:
I still want to if we can get back to the idea of when did you decide that you would be—
JAMES B. HUNT:
Running for governor.
JACK FLEER:
A candidate for governor.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Jack, I think I announced about October.
JACK FLEER:
Of '71, '75. Excuse me, '75.
JAMES B. HUNT:
'75 right. I'd have to go back. My guess is I made the decision within a couple of months of that time. Typically you would wait until the legislature was over with, and these were, as I said I was working hard in the legislature. By the way we had some tough, they think we've got a tough time with the budget here. Let me take them

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back and show them a few times including while I was lieutenant governor, and we had to change it. We had to pass it. We had to balance that budget.
JACK FLEER:
The second half of that was a very difficult time.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Oh tough. So my recollection is we finished the legislature, and then I contacted all my folks. I was in constant touch with them. But I didn't make a decision until after—
END OF INTERVIEW