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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, November 19, 1990. Interview L-0048. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Glass ceiling at UNC

Pollitt discusses how UNC officials failed to accept female leadership. Although Anne Queen garnered the respect of many at UNC, her gender prevented Queen from obtaining a higher-ranking position at the university.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, November 19, 1990. Interview L-0048. 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

CINDY CHEATHAM:
Did you believe that Anne, because she was a staff member at the University and because she was responsible for the Y and had that reputation, had that communication with the administration, with Bill Friday and Aycock? Did she in any way feel like she had to remain in the back of this movement?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
I don't know. She did have contact with them. See, Bill Friday and Bill Aycock were members of the Community Church which was the center of the whole thing. You know, it was somewhat ambiguous. I don't know when Claude Shotts retired from here, but there was a good question about who would succeed him. And again, this was a man's University. Women go over to the Women's College in Greensboro and you could only come here if you were going to the Nursing School or if you live in Orange County or something like that; or if you were an upper classman and you want to major in something they don't have at the Women's College. So, there were very few women. So, at that time, I had a friend who came here to get her Ph.D. in romance languages and they would not let her be a TA here. They arranged for her to be a teaching assistant at Duke because women were not fit or it was not appropriate for women to teach as a teaching assistant in the romance department. Well, now here's Anne Queen. She's a women at, essentially, a men's University, number two in a two person job and I'm sure she'd like to be number one, you know. But I don't really think Anne would have thought about that.
CINDY CHEATHAM:
Yes. I was interested in finding out more about how you felt her position as a female. . .
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, there was that and there was trouble. I know that when Claude Shotts did retire, or announced his retirement, there was a search committee or something, on who was going to succeed him. I got a petition going for Anne to support her for the job. And we weren't sure she'd get it. There was a search committee and I think I might have been on the search committee. I know I was on several search committees for the Y. I would have been a biased member. But there was that problem.
CINDY CHEATHAM:
Norm Gustavison came in, I noticed, when he was really young and she had been there for several years. I'm wondering if you know anything about how that decision was made.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
I was on the search committee that brought in Norm. But I was also on the search committee that brought in somebody else before Norm, I think, who stayed there for a little bit and then became the Assistant Dean of Students or something. He was out of the Union Theological Seminary and a very good person, but Anne was not assured that she would get the top job, you know. And if she did she would be one of the two. . . . There was the Dean of Women and there was Anne Queen and they would be the only women with any authority around the University.
CINDY CHEATHAM:
How did you perceive Anne's influence on the students?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, she had everybody spellbound. Everybody loved Anne Queen and what she was doing and what she was about. Anne is not a traditional beauty. She has her own beauty, but it's a unique beauty and so she doesn't fit the model of the Hollywood beauty type. And she spoke like she was from Canton, North Carolina after having grown up in a blue collar household. She had double negatives, you know, so she was not fluent, not a great speaker at all. It was just what she was and what she did that created a tremendous crowd of admirers. You may have seen the letterhead of when we started the Anne Queen Fund. It starts with Terry Sanford and Bill Friday and all of the editors of the major newspapers who had been YMCA people under her. It was just a tremendous list of people who were willing to go and try to create some sort of a memorial because she should not be forgotten.
CINDY CHEATHAM:
Yes, you say that she was admired by all these people. Why was she so able to spellbind people? Obviously, her interests, but her interests were similar to a lot of other people who were active liberals in the community.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, I think that maybe it was because she would always say, "What do you think?" And she wanted everybody to speak and I recall the first time we had Floyd McKissick here it was a debate on whether the House Committee on Unamerican Activities had a right to subpoena the Ku Klux Klan and ask for their membership rolls or not. And Floyd McKissick defended the First Amendment rights of the Klan. That was his role and the other guy was the Congressman from Georgia who was very liberal and popular who thought that the Klan was so bad, they ought to try to stamp it out through publicity or something. Well, we had a Klan guy. I forget who he was. We had David Duke here, who was the candidate for Senate in Louisiana. He got sixty-five percent of the white male vote in Louisiana, but he came here under YMCA auspices to get his point of view across. So, she obviously, was very liberal and she favored Mike Harrington and Al Lowenstein. Sloane Coffin, I think, was her favorite of all favorites. But she always gave the other side a break. And again, she never forgot the people in Butner or the Big Sister and the Big Brother program; to go help children for a couple of hours. I don't ever find it thrilling, but it could be considered thrilling to go out and be the first picketer at the movie theater. My sign was "T'ain't Necessarily So". That's what I remember, segregation. "T'ain't Necessarily So"...