Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, November 28, 1990. Interview L-0064-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Relationship between law schools of UNC and NC Central

Pollitt begins by discussing how some of the law professors at UNC, such as Henry Brandis and John Dalzell, took a broader interest in matters of the community. Pollitt then focuses specifically on the establishment of a law school for African Americans at North Carolina Central University in the late 1930s (with Van Hecke as the first dean) and Dalzell's efforts to encourage UNC professors to teach courses at NC Central. The passage concludes with Pollitt's comments on the failed effort to bring an African American professor from NC Central to teach at UNC in the late 1950s.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, November 28, 1990. Interview L-0064-2. 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

Then nobody else was hired except Bill Aycock and then me. But when I came here, Henry Brandis took me out for dinner. He was then the head of the World Federalists which is what it's name implies, one world. He had gone when Frank Graham had been at the U.N. He had been sent to Indonesia which had just won its independence from Holland and there were a lot of tribal disputes and there were disputes with Holland still. So Frank Graham went there to mediate the dispute between Indonesia and Holland. He asked Henry to go with him as his assistant. So Henry went there and that hadn't been too much earlier. And then he was Executive Director of the World Federalists which almost stopped him from being the dean because some trustees didn't like a World Federalist being the dean, but he survived it and was the dean. And when I came, he was about to run for the school board. I asked him, "That's pretty low," you know, I thought, to run for the local school board. And he said they were going to start integrating the schools here and he wanted to make sure it was done the way it was supposed to be done. So that was very, very nice. John Dalzell, whom I mentioned, came here in the very late twenties from Minnesota and he too was a one worlder. When he died he left his property, his house here, to the Union now with Great Britain, which had been very active in the thirties. His interest was international law and the United Nations. He was in charge of the debate and stuff. He also taught at N.C. Central. And the story there is that there is a Supreme Court decision around 1938 which said that…. Up to that time when blacks had applied in the Southern states for colleges or graduate schools, the state had paid their tuition to go to the great ten. Then the Supreme Court said, "No, you can't do that any more." It was a graduate school. If you have a graduate school, you can't send the blacks out of state. You have to let them in or you can start their own graduate school, whereupon North Carolina decided to start a law school for blacks so they wouldn't come to this one. They put it at N.C. Central at Durham. Van Hecke was the first dean. They asked him to do it. The first faculty were our people and Duke people.
So you had worked part time at Central?
Yes. Whatever you taught here you'd teach over there. But they only had five or six of them. It was a couple of years before they hired a black to teach there. But John Dalzell had been an original teacher there and he wanted to teach there. He kept up his courses there and his courses here. It was his ker that we didn't have any black faculty. Nobody did. He made the motion that we bring the black faculty from N.C. Central to come over here and teach. He was not a firebrand at all. But that was John Dalzell. His interests were international law.
Did the school do it?
We offered a job to their dean who is a great fellow and this must have been in the very late fifties. He accepted. He was going to come over and start the summer school when it would be easy and he had a house there and there were no problems. But he called us and said he'd gone to see his doctor. His blood pressure had gone up and his doctor had told him he'd better not take the risk. The thought of integrating the University…. He was a man in his fifties, mature and looked like Paul Robeson; very nice guy, but it was just too much for him which is amazing to think that.