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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, May 18, 2001. Interview C-0329. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Hunt's focus on alleviating poverty influenced high school and college leadership goals

The poverty of Hunt's hometown led him to advocate for better schools, transportation systems, and healthcare. His awareness of these issues arose during his leadership in high school and collegiate extracurricular activities.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, May 18, 2001. Interview C-0329. 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

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 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.