Cusick criticizes the slow pace of Chapel Hill's and Sanford's liberal responses
Cusick expresses his ambivalence toward former Governor Terry Sanford's actions. Although Chapel Hill and Sanford embraced a liberal orientation, Cusick argues that neither went far enough to effect racial change.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Pat Cusick, June 19, 1989. Interview L-0043. 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
- PAT CUSICK:
I have a theory about that because I've seen it in other
settings with other people, and Ehle quotes it in the book, I think. The
playwright that had been around Chapel Hill, Paul Green, said something
about Chapel Hill was a lighthouse, but something about its base. And I
think in terms of Terry Sanford, and I still have mixed emotions about
Terry Sanford, certainly in the line-up of southern governors, etc.,
etc., he was exemplarily. I mean, there's no doubt. I
won't take away from that. And it took
a lot of courage at various points in time. But he did not, and a lot of
people react this way, Harvard is reacting very much this way in this
town. In your own house or in your own base, you don't like
to have things exposed. And we were attacking the bastion of liberalism,
and they just could not understand. It was partially desegregated. There
were some desegregated restaurants. Why were we saying they all had to
be, you know? And it was embarrassing and he got very upset about that.
Later on, he blamed the defeat of Richardson Pryor on us.
- PAMELA DEAN:
What do you thing about that?
- PAT CUSICK:
Oh, I totally disagree to this day. I think the reason Pryor got defeated
was the food tax. Terry Sanford put a tax on food. I mean, to
blame—and he specifically blamed us in Chapel Hill for
polarizing the whole damn state—not so. The state was
certainly polarized on racial matters, but it wasn't due to
just us in Chapel Hill. Just from conversations I had with white
convicts and stuff who were not voters, but nevertheless, the main anger
at Terry Sanford that they transferred to his protegee was the tax on
food which was atrocious. That's in my view. Course, he will
probably forever say, I don't know what his view is now. But
I think that's why. But yes, he did. He didn't
like what was going on in Chapel Hill, because we got more militant in
our slogans and things when we did the big thing in February, the big
action on February 1. I know one of the signs was "Chapel Hill,
Home of Candy Coated Racism." [Laughter]
I mean, that just did not go over well at all. I guess I felt
then and I still feel to this day that because Chapel Hill had been
liberal, because it had the reputation of
upholding civil liberties and so forth, and had been a beacon as
compared to other southern institutions, it had more responsibility. It
should have been out there itself as a University and even Terry. So I
don't buy that. Didn't buy it then and
don't buy it now.