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Title: Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, April 17, 1991. Interview L-0064-9. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Pollitt, Daniel H., interviewee
Interview conducted by McColl, Ann
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
Size of electronic edition: 124 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.
2008-02-19, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, April 17, 1991. Interview L-0064-9. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0064-9)
Author: Ann McColl
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, April 17, 1991. Interview L-0064-9. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0064-9)
Author: Daniel H. Pollitt
Description: 149 Mb
Description: 38 p.
Note: Interview conducted on April 17, 1991, by Ann McColl; recorded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series L. University of North Carolina, 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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Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, April 17, 1991.
Interview L-0064-9. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Pollitt, Daniel H., interviewee


Interview Participants

    DANIEL H. POLLITT, interviewee
    ANN McCOLL, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
ANN McCOLL:
This is an interview with Dan Pollitt in the continuing series at the UNC Law School. Today's date is April 17, 1991 and the interviewer is Ann McColl. All right, I think we just agreed that today we're going to talk about some of the organizations you've been involved with. Maybe if you can start with the ones that you have had a continuing interest in.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Okay. There have been three or four continuing interests that I've been members of for a long, long time. One of those is the American Association of University Professors, the AAUP. The AAUP is primarily concerned with academic freedom. It was born in World War I to protect the conscientious objectors on the campuses. It's the largest multidisciplinary organization and the oldest. I joined it when I started to teach at the American University at night because one of my colleagues was called before the House Committee on Unamerican Activities and admitted that he had been a member of the Communist Party much earlier on and they fired him. So, we were protesting his discharge and the AAUP was the active group. Then I went to Arkansas and I joined the AAUP. That was in 1955 and Brown against the School Board was 1954, and we had all sorts of racial problems. They wanted to get the public employees, namely the black teachers, but they didn't say only black teachers. They said all teachers which includes university professors. We were supposed to file disclaimers that we did not support any Communist groups including the NAACP and so on. I refused. That's why I had to leave. I wouldn't sign the oath

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which is sort of hard to say why you wouldn't sign a loyalty oath when you're looking for a job in 1957. But in any event, I've been a long time AAUP member, and when I came here I joined it. I'm an active member. They always need a lawyer on committees, so I became a committee person. I was the President here when we had the cafeteria strike. We had an extended executive board to monitor the strike action every day. We met for lunch every day. Then we had the Speaker Ban Law and the AAUP was the organization around which people rallied. Over the years it's the group of professors who care about what's doing, mostly.
ANN McCOLL:
Is it strong in this area?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, we've always had 150 to 200 dues paying members and the dues are about eight-five bucks a year.
ANN McCOLL:
And this would be people who might work at the different universities in the Triangle?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Here in Carolina. Then in a crisis, our membership goes up to 800.
ANN McCOLL:
So that's 200 out of about how many professors?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Out of about twelve hundred. But these are the people who are willing to pay eighty-five dollars a year to keep an organization going; to be there when trouble comes. And the trouble is the Speaker Ban Law or something, and academic freedom. I've been on the state group and there have been eight or nine episodes where I've been asked to go and meet with people and try to reconcile things. Once I went to eastern Tennessee. They fired a young sociology professor for failure to attend a scheduled faculty meeting. The faculty meeting was scheduled to

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coincide with a moratorium day to protest the bombing of Cambodia and this guy was going to read some poetry of Ho Chi Min. He was scheduled, so the President quickly scheduled faculty meetings in every department and so no faculty could participate in the moratorium day meeting. This guy said, "Nothing happens at the faculty meetings. I'm going to do as scheduled." He went and read some poetry and he was fired. I was on the investigating committee and the President said it was his campus and we were not allowed on it. I wrote and told him that it wasn't his campus. It belonged to the people of Tennessee and that I was going to go there, and if he wanted to arrest me he could find me at the cafeteria at a certain hour. So there were three of us. I went and one of them stayed within eyesight so he could relay back to the fellow at the motel that we needed help. The other two wouldn't go with me to get arrested, but I thought we couldn't put up with this. I wasn't arrested. So I went to his office and told his secretary I wanted to see the President. She said the President couldn't see me. He was too busy. But in any event, we wrote a report blacklisting them for denying academic freedom, whereupon the legislature of Tennessee adopted a resolution condemning me by name and my committee for interfering in the internal affairs of the State Universities of Tennessee. So that was one of them. In any event, I got elected to the National Council representing, I forget the number of the district, but it's all the states starting in North Carolina and running through Texas; all the states of the old Confederacy. I was their representative for three years on the National Council.

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I think that's one of my big ones. And the other big one is the ACLU. Quite often the members of the AAUP are also members of the ACLU. It's hard to tell which meeting you're at. They're all Community Churchers in addition. But I've been active in that. I was a member when I was in college. My mother was a long time member. She got an award in the District of Columbia for her work. So I joined that. When we started a chapter in North Carolina in 1963 or '64 over the Speaker Ban controversy, I was one of the original Board of Directors and then I got to be the President during the sixties.
ANN McCOLL:
Who else was one of the founding members?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Bill Finlator. W.W. Finlator and MacNeil Smith and Bill Van Alstein and Charlie Lambeth. There were ten of us or twelve of us who were on the board. Mary Siemens over at Duke. And Lisbon Berry who was a black attorney, a partner of Floyd McKissick. So we met and did whether you can go out and give out peace leaflets on the military bases. We did a lot of haircuts. Schools had their haircut and grooming regulations. We had a lot of those cases. And the underground newspapers we had, and then the draft resistance. Those were all the things that came up during my term. I was the President for five years and I'm still a member. I'm on the National Board.
ANN McCOLL:
And that's something that you're elected to?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes.
ANN McCOLL:
And it's through the national membership?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, there are two types. I'm on the National Board as a representative of North Carolina and I get elected by North

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Carolina to represent there. There are fifty representatives from the states and thirty at large. All the at large people are from California, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois because that's where the votes are. So those are my two.
Then, I've been a member of the National Sharecropper's Fund which is also known as the Rural Advancement Fund. This was started in the late thirties when the mechanized cotton picker came in and started to displace the sharecroppers in the cotton fields. Cotton was king at that time and sharecropping was a way of life for many, many people. So they started to displace the sharecropper and they organized the Sharecropper's Union, the National Sharecropper's Union. They were very active in Arkansas and Alabama and Mississippi. Then they became the National Agricultural Workers Union for the sharecroppers, cotton and every other kind of crop. When I went with Joe Rauh in 1952, we represented Mr. H.L. Mitchell who was the President of the Union. The Union didn't have any money, so Joe Rauh assigned me to them because he had to earn money to keep the firm going. So he represented the Auto Workers who paid and I represented the sharecroppers who didn't pay. We had a lot of strikes hither and yon and injunctions and organizing and activities. Then I think it was when I came here, I was asked to serve on…. Van Hecke, who had been the former dean, had written the "Van Hecke Report of Migratory Farm Labor" which was done under Truman. That was the guide for everybody. I was on the National Advisory Committee on Migratory Farm Labor. It was totally unofficial. Nobody asked for our advice. We met yearly and had a big public

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hearing on the plight of the migrant. We'd put out pamphlets and stuff. Steve Allen was on that board with Hollywood dignitaries and so on. Then that merged with the National Sharecroppers Fund, so I became a member of the National Sharecroppers Fund with Van Hecke and Frank Porter Graham and Eleanor Roosevelt and Benjamin Mays and Norman Thomas. So it was a real high-powered group and I was greatly honored to be on it. I've been on it ever since; ever since 1960. We meet and we have our problems. Right now we're working on the poultry farmers. They are licensed where they have contracts with Perdue and Holly Farms to raise the chicks and they deliver the chicks and then ten weeks later they come by and pick them up. They feed the chicks in the incubators and they spend almost two hundred thousand dollars to get all the equipment and set it up. And if they try to organize to protest something, they lose their contract. So we're trying to do something about that. That's one of the things. And then all the farmers now are losing their farms, the black farmers. And in North Hampton County up here before World War I they had two hundred black farmers. Now there are six black farmers. They can't get the loans. We bring suits against the Department of Agriculture for discriminating on the basis of race. When it's ready for trial they agree to give the loan to the guy, but by then the season is over, you know.
ANN McCOLL:
Does the organization look at legal policy?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, and we set up co-ops and we have irrigation equipment which we make available in case of a drought. We have a big co-op in cucumbers up in Danville, Virginia. We had

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violence in South Carolina for the shrimpers and we tried to encourage marketing outlets and things. It's a significant thing. We've sort of lost sight of the migrants. We look at the family farm to keep the family farmer on the farm. So it's a current thrust. The ACLU, the AAUP and the National Sharecroppers.
Then for not quite so long, but I've been very active in the Southerners For Economic Justice. This was started in the early seventies when the Textile Worker's Union started to organize the J.P. Stevens plants. And the J.P. Stevens Company fought the unionization with every foul means at its disposal and every illegal means. There are twenty-seven different court decisions upholding Labor Board things finding that J.P. Stevens violated the Labor Act and then there are separate decisions saying that they violated the Equal Protection Act and the Minimum Wage Act and OSHA and everything else. It's a very respectable, major, blue chip corporation that exploits its workers unmercifully. So the Southerners for Economic Justice was born to front for the union in the southern communities. The members include W.W. Finlator and Jim Ferguson who is a partner of Julius Chambers and Julian Bond, and the mayor of Atlanta, the present and the former. And so what it is is big-shot black people in Atlanta and lesser known people in North Carolina. And we're the Southerners for Economic Justice and we carry on various campaigns. Right now we are doing the repetitive motion illness.
ANN McCOLL:
Did you get the Poultry Workers?

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DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, the Poultry Workers. They get there where the beast goes by on a wire and somebody is there with a sharp knife to cut the neck or something. God knows, they have to do it eighty times a minute or something. And also, in the Hanes Hosiery where they make stockings or what do you call that? Panty hose. And we organized some people there. They go home after five years and their wrists hurt and they have to soak them in hot water for an hour. Just terrible. The idea was that we would work on these problems and then we'd get them into the union which would take care of more interests.
ANN McCOLL:
How are you pursuing these problems?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
We have organizers.
ANN McCOLL:
So is it pressuring them directly?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
No. Well, we do. We were going to do Hanes Hosiery which they sell L'Eggs, and we figured we'd go after them. Then we have the weapon which is to boycott the product. We can go to the major A&P or whatever and say, "Don't handle this or we'll picket your establishment."
ANN McCOLL:
So you use both legal and more sociable means of…
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. And oddly, most of our staff are nuns and former priests. They are free from their orders to come and do work with the rural poor and the depressed in the South.
ANN McCOLL:
How did this happen that they are mostly nuns?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
I don't know. They were looking for something good to do to help humanity. We got one and they are great people. We had two of them in the plant. They'd go in the plant and get a job and work from within. We had two who…. You can't say,

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"I'm Sister So and So and my education includes a Master's degree at Catholic University." They always say that, you know. You have to be a high school drop out to get a job, so they'd falsify their applications. Then they'd get spotted and then they fire them for falsifying the application.
ANN McCOLL:
But while they are in there they're getting the information?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, and they work and they get it and then they say, "Why don't we have a meeting at my house to discuss this?"
ANN McCOLL:
So they bring in some of their co-workers?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
They bring the co-workers and then they say, "We need a traffic light in there and there are some other problems in the community."
ANN McCOLL:
That's pretty creative.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. They are community organizers is what they are and they don't cost a dime since they are self-supporting. Their organization pays half and they have to raise the other half. They all play guitars and they go to the Catholic churches and this is their Sunday, whatever is dropped in the box is theirs to carry on their work. They explain what they're doing and that sort of thing.
We were down at the Gulf strikes, with the paper, the timber. We worked with the people who cut the timber. They do it on a contract basis and there was a big strike there for four or five years. Now we're down in the Gulf area again working on poultry. And we're big in sugar cane because that was an Agricultural Worker's Union. H.L. Mitchell reorganized all the people who cut sugar cane in Louisiana and went on a strike.

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They got an injunction against striking during the harvest season. By the time we got that resolved, the harvest season was over. It's one thing after the other. So, those are my major…. The AAUP, the ACLU and the Rural Advancement Fund, it's now known as. We also do biogenetics and stuff. We're having a big fight right there right now which I'm involved in. It's very unfortunate in that we've had great executive directors.
ANN McCOLL:
This is at the Rural Advancement Fund?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
The Rural Advancement. And we lost Katherine Waller who was our director for eleven years. She pulled us out of the red and put us in the black. She had been one of the organizers on hunger. During the seventies they discovered hunger and started to do something about it. She was one of those who discovered hunger with Ray Wheeler who was our leader here in Rural Advancement Fund and also the chairman of the Southern Regional Council of which I was a member. So, in any event, she retired. Had to get a new one and we got a guy who was a charismatic, black person, very handsome. He played tennis with Mr. Ashe, played doubles with him. He'd been doing voter registration in the South and he was on our board for a year or so. Then he said he'd like to be the executive director. We were very happy and elected him with a claim. Then we found out that he was not very good at managing money. There were about thirty-five against him in Danville and there had been a criminal proceeding against him in Virginia Beach where he'd passed bad checks worth eleven thousand dollars, but for a good cause. He had a Miss Black America thing. He'd raise

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scholarship funds. He'd written the checks and he hadn't covered them. In any event, he also said he had a Master's degree from Catholic University which he didn't have. So I called and suggested we have a meeting to reconsider this and we did. He came in and said he'd paid off all his r and he would have had the Master's; he did all the coursework and got A's, but he couldn't get his thesis approved because the professor was racist. So we accepted all that and reaffirmed his leadership. Then we found out he hadn't paid off all his debts. So at our next meeting, which I raised, we also found out he had not paid his Virginia Beach…. They suspended the jail sentence on the condition that he pay up and I heard from the hotel in Virginia Beach that he hadn't. So we raised it at the October meeting which was the next meeting. He told us that he was very surprised. I called him in and told him, "Here's what we've received." So he got the big Civil Rights lawyer in Virginia, whom we all knew, to represent him in this matter. The guy told him that if he'd give him the mortgage on his house he'd pay all the debts. He was surprised to find out that hadn't happened. Well, I didn't trust the guy any longer, so when the meeting was over I called the lawyer and he said, "No," he hadn't taken any mortgage and he'd never promised to pay off any debts. So I sent this to the board and said, "I can't work any longer with this guy because I don't believe him and furthermore, I've been his accuser. We can't work together." And furthermore, the blacks on the board had accused me of racism for picking on him because he was black. I didn't want to be accused as a racist. A couple

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of them wouldn't shake my hand, which we always go and shake hands and do the body language. So I felt it was time for me to get out. Well, then he gave raises to all the black staff and then to the white staff. The white staff couldn't work with him so they quit. So now we have a rival organization and it's very, very distasteful.
ANN McCOLL:
Are you still involved?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, I'm in a rival organization. I'm one of the three board of directors. I just finished writing a letter to our contributors. Here people have been contributing since 1938 and then they leave things in their wills. It's a three million dollar a year operation. Now they get fund letters from the Rural Advancement Fund, which is the old one and Rural Advancement Fund International USA, which is the new one. So I just wrote a four page letter explaining it all. But that goes on. That's too bad. It's really too bad.
ANN McCOLL:
Is this person still the executive director?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
He was fired because he took his girlfriend to New York on a business meeting and stayed at the Heimsley Inn and spent six thousand dollars on the weekend. So they let him go.
ANN McCOLL:
But the organization is still…
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
It's falling apart is what has happened to it because all their people resigned. At least half of the board resigned. So it was really too bad. But it's part, I think of our growing pains. Well, it's not part of our growing pains. I think it could have been avoided. It's a black-white thing. The people who stayed on the board said, "Look, you've got to understand

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that we were always an integrated group and for many years our leader was Benjamin Mays who was the President of whatever the college in Atlanta is. The most prestigious. Morehead. And we've always had blacks on our board. Always. And black staff. It's been one of the few integrated groups since the thirties, but the people who stayed were willing to accept the black because he's a black even though he lies. And I wasn't. I said, "If he were white we wouldn't keep him. Why do we have to keep him because he's black?" There were plenty of good blacks. I suggested Mayor Lee, you know, who was then not elected to the Senate. I said, "Hell, he's not doing much. He'd be a great fellow. There are plenty of good people." In any event, that happened and I'm a racist for it. They say I went after him because he's black. So there you have it.
ANN McCOLL:
How did you feel?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
I felt terrible. These are my long time associates.
ANN McCOLL:
You've done a lot of work in that area.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
But then the staff all quit and they wanted to continue the work. They couldn't work with him. So we had the staff. We had the job to be done, so we just started a different organization. Well, that's RAF and those are my long time and then there are the short time. A lot of things come and go. And most recently it was the Triangle Citizens for Peace in the Gulf. We thought that the Bush study was going to get us in the war no matter what Congress said. He didn't care about Congress and that violates the War Powers Act. So I wrote a couple of letters to the newspaper and then we had a meeting. We had a meeting

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downtown at the City Hall and we got two mayors, from Chapel Hill and Carrboro, to sponsor it.
ANN McCOLL:
Was this over Christmas break?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
I forget. Somewhere in there. We got T.V. coverage and an open citizens meeting to come and say whatever you want to. I thought nobody else was debating this and that we could get some coverage. If Chapel Hill has a town meeting, maybe other people would have town meetings. So, we had a town meeting and then somebody thought we should have one. Kuralt came down about a month later, but they had a selected audience.
ANN McCOLL:
So it was by invitation only?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
By invitation only. Ours was open to the public. On the committee, the leaders are W.W. Finlator and me and Dave Barber over at the Political Science at Duke and Leslie Dunbar who used to be the President of the Southern Regional Council which was a hundred people, black and white in the South, organized to bring about integration. And its forebears were the Methodist women against lynching. It grew out of that. It had hard times. I was a member for six years or so before Brown and right after Brown. We used to have trouble finding a meeting place because half the members are black and half are white. I got out. I decided not to run anymore. At the time I decided to go for Southerners for Economic Justice because I thought integration is…. The problem is there, it remains, but economics is more important. So I was in that. When I first came here, Chapel Hill was still segregated; the school system. And we had an ad hoc committee to integrate the public schools

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which was run by the ministers, mostly. I joined that and I became the President of that. We rotated a year and we elected a school board that decided to integrate. That's what we did and then that ended. We always had ad hoc things which I think is good. You form a committee over a problem, you solve the problem and then forget it. There's no sense keeping the organization going.
ANN McCOLL:
You mentioned some of the same people seem to end up on these, like W.W. Finlator.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
There are a limited number of people who have the energy and the interest and the concern to do these things.
ANN McCOLL:
It becomes sort of a self-selected view.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
The Duke Power Company strike up in Harlan County, Brookside Mine. Duke Power decided that it needed a source of coal to generate the electricity so it bought two mines up in Harlan County.
ANN McCOLL:
Is this is Kentucky?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. "Bloody Harlan" they call it because it was bloody. They were non-union mines and the United Mine Workers went in and tried to organize it and did organize it. Brookside, which is the same as Duke Power Company, refused to bargain with them in good faith. So they started to picket the place and Duke hired people to guard the mines on work release. They got them out of the Kentucky prison.
ANN McCOLL:
To guard it?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, to guard it. Prisoners on work release.
ANN McCOLL:
Prisoners were guarding the mines?

Page 16
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, and they started to shoot and they were up on a hill where you go up on the hill and you go down into the mine and there is a little curvy road down below. We would picket there. There mine workers picketing there and they'd have a fire going to keep warm. They'd start shooting at them and they'd shoot back. Then the governor didn't declare marshall law, but he sent the State Troopers to control the place. Then the coal company got an injuction against our picketing from a local judge by the name of Hogg who owned a couple of mines as well. So they enjoined the mine workers. Then the women went out and the women would go and picket and then they'd get the strike breakers. They'd get six patrol cars, cop cars, and then twenty scabs and then a couple of patrol cars and they'd come up the road. Hell, that was dangerous because some of our people would shoot at the tires and stuff. Then they'd meet the women who'd be sitting there blocking the highway.
ANN McCOLL:
These would be local women?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, the wives. And then they would be arrested and they wouldn't post bail. They wanted to fill the jails and stuff.
ANN McCOLL:
How many women are you talking about?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
I'm talking about fifty of them. They were carrying the battle. Their daddy had been a mine worker and their granddaddy and they'd killed this guy down in the holler and you know, the animosities ran deep. There wasn't too much publicity to any of this, so they thought if they could have a public hearing on what was doing up there they could bring the press.

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ANN McCOLL:
Why do think it wasn't getting publicity with all that going on?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
It was not so abnormal in Harlan County.
ANN McCOLL:
That's because it was called "Bloody Harlan?"
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. And so they created an ad hoc committee on the Brookside strike. I was the chairman of it.
ANN McCOLL:
This was an organization called "Citizens Inquiry into the Brookside Strike"?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, this was the Inquiry into the Brookside Strike. We had Fred Harris who had been the Senator from Oklahoma and ran for President and Willard Wurtz who had been the Secretary of Labor under LBJ and W.W. Finlator who is a minister, and the daughter of a guy named Mitchell who had run against John L. Lewis for presidency of the mine workers. She's currently at Cornell School on Labor Relations. I don't know, there is somebody now in the Children's Foundation. So we had men and women and there were maybe eight or nine of us. We went up and we had three days of hearings. It was open to everybody that wanted to come. And we had CBS and NBC and the "Louisville Courier Journal" people. Fred Harris wrote an article for "Harper's Magazine" afterwards. Willard Wurtz wrote a series of articles for the "Washington Post" afterwards. So it got a lot of publicity. And Dave Barber at Duke who was then the head of Political Science. All this is because of the Duke Power Company. So they wanted some people from North Carolina and then famous outsiders who would draw the press. There they were

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talking about the machine gun which they'd mounted up there on the mine property.
ANN McCOLL:
Duke Power had?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Duke Power Company had the machine gun up there and we asked the President of Brookside, the subsidiary, to come and testify. He wouldn't come. But the others talked about the machine gun, so CBS took their camera up there to see the machine gun and they got tossed down the hill by the guards who were lifers out of the Kentucky penitentiary. We decided we would have it in the morning when we'd break into small committees and go see people who wouldn't come to see us. I had to go see the guy. He wouldn't see us, thank God. I went with Willard Wurtz and Fred Harris. So then we reported back and then we talked about other things other than the strike. What to do in this community. Everybody has bad teeth and the water is terrible because the water comes out of the hillside where they've been mining and somehow it's all poisoned. So nobody drinks the water. They all drink Seven Up or something, so their teeth are gone by the time they are sixteen or seventeen. Then there's the housing. It's all hollows and hills and there's a stream and you follow the stream. Every so often there's a wide place and you have the company towns and they are all four room houses on stilts and there is no water in them. There is a pump where you go and take your bucket and you pump. And it's mud because there's been water there.
ANN McCOLL:
How old are these houses? I mean, are these the houses they were living in in the seventies?

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DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. This was not that long ago. Then they have outhouses. They don't have indoor plumbing, so you have the outhouses. Then the toilet paper goes down and they overhang the stream. Then the stream in the springtime comes and overflows and carries the toilet paper. All these trees on the side of the stream have toilet paper hanging from them. It's just terrible. Then there's no health. They are well-paid, but if you've got to work in the mine, you have to live there. It's company owned and life if miserable and dangerous. Very dangerous. Everybody has a broken back or something. And the store was owned by the company as a convenience. You could go into Harlan, which was maybe twenty miles from where Brookside was. It was on the side of a brook, which is why the called it Brookside. And black lung. This was before they had the Black Lung Bill and everybody was coughing. Everybody over forty-five had black lung. So we talked about all the community problems and we issued a report which was all of these things and then we recommended a series. Why doesn't Duke and the United Mine Workers take this opportunity to make the desert road, you know, bloom like a garden and stuff. Why can't they do something? Why don't they get some dentists up there and some Medicare and some Peace Corps people and some Teacher Corps people? Duke put in some money and the mine workers put in some money, and get the Vista volunteers and just show that in Appalachia there is a possibility of creating a very good life and so on. So we went to see the President of the Duke Power Company in his office with our proposal. First we saw the President of the mine workers.

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Forget the wage per hour business and look at something else, a great opportunity. The mine workers were receptive but the Duke Power Company wasn't. They were going to start to picket. The mine workers started to picket the Duke Power annual stockholders meetings and they went to the banks and said, "Don't loan any more money to Duke Power Company or we'll withdraw our pension funds." So there was pressure and they did sign the standard contract, but they didn't do any of the other things that we could have done.
ANN McCOLL:
What do you mean when you said they signed they signed the standard contract?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, the coal mine owners are in a multi-employer bargaining thing, and so instead of one mine dealing with the Mine Workers Union, most of the mines are in an association. So the Duke Power Company signed the contract. They didn't join the association, but the adopted the existing contract. So that was pretty exciting. There were a whole bunch of students from Carolina and Duke that went up. They had a big auditorium. I know there was a wife I talked to during one of the breaks of a doctor who lived in Harlan. She was miffed or something and she met her husband in med school and she said she had never talked to a miner before. They were sort of sub-human or something. The socioeconomic role they were in was a real stratified type of society.
ANN McCOLL:
So what was the resolution? This was in 1974, wasn't it?

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DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. The resolution was that they agreed to the normal contract and they stopped fighting the union and they agreed to renew the contract and take out the machine gun.
ANN McCOLL:
And the work release…
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, and send the work releasers back to their lifetime sentences in the prison. I think the Governor commuted all their sentences. But there were a lot of arrests and protests and singing and poetry. Everybody writes poems about, "Down in the darkness of the mines," you know. And songs. People play the guitar and sing songs, "Which side are you on boys? Which side are you on? You either are a Union man or you're scab for J.D. Blair." Or something like that. So that was the better part of a week and then we came back and we had press conferences.
ANN McCOLL:
Was there very much national attention at this point?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. We got all the networks there. They were interested in the machine guns and they did the women, you know, who had been in jail. And they tried to see Judge Hogg. He wouldn't see them. So we brought about a settlement and then we had congressional hearings. I worked for Frank Thompson who had the sub-committee on labor management relations who put some more pressure on Duke. We scheduled hearings and we brought in three or four people who had been shot. One of them had been on picket line duty and he was about seventy years old. He's been on the picket line in thirty…
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]


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[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
ANN McCOLL:
Now, was this also during the '74 strike?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, yes. And this guy, he had something, a St. Christopher medal or something. A metal thing and it had been around his neck and he put it in his shirt pocket so it wouldn't jingle or something. A bullet hit his St. Christopher's medal and he got up and they said, "Brother Malcolm, will you tell the committee your story?" And he got up and looked the wrong way and held up his St. Christopher medal and in a high pitched voice, "The night riders came and got me, you know, just like they got my Uncle Jeb." We got out a pamphlet and we got a lot of attention in Washington. All that put pressure to the Duke Power Company, but they were just trying to break the union. I don't see why the hell they wanted to break the union, but they did. We saw whatever the President's name is. He was very nice. He saw us all by himself. We had the top floor of the Duke Power Company in Charlotte and he had a table about twenty feet long, all mahogany, and Dave Barber and Bill Finlator and I went to see him and carry our suggestions of how he can become a folk hero more than Iacocca, you know, by dealing fairly with these workers and trying to look into their total needs as well as the on the job needs. But he didn't buy it. So that was that one. Then there was the Max Goldman group. That goes back to when LBJ was elected President or maybe it was when he became the President after Kennedy was assassinated, he was a New Dealer in the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt in domestic ways. So he had a guy named Max Goldman in the White House who was a professor of

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political science at Princeton and he asked Max Goldman to assemble sort of a think tank group on various matters that could meet periodically and make suggestions to the President on new programs and everything. So Max Goldman did and I was invited to be on the group.
ANN McCOLL:
Do you know how your name came up?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
I think it came up because I was to be on the Farm Labor, and also I had written a speech for LBJ earlier on farm labor when he had been the Vice President and he met a group of foreign journalists to talk about farm labor problems. So he sent the word over to the Labor Board where I was a consultant to the chairman, that he would like some notes. The chairman asked me to write some notes for the Vice President which I did and he has the speech and he gave it. John Ely was the other one from North Carolina who is a novelist who had been the consultant to Terry Sanford when Terry Sanford was the Governor. He was Terry Sanford's idea man. We had the guy who does the camera, he was my roommate at these meetings. Mr. Lens. They had the great anthropologist. What's her name?
ANN McCOLL:
Margaret Meade?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Margaret Meade was on it. It was big. We had the President of Berkeley.
ANN McCOLL:
How many people total?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
There were about thirty-five of us and we'd meet periodically and we'd break into groups of five or something, dealing with subject matter. Then we would meet all together and

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discuss what was significant. We met with, who's the guy who is on Channel Four Public Service Broadcasting?
ANN McCOLL:
Moyers?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Bill Moyers. He was then on the White House staff and he was our liaison with us. He'd come to all our meetings. I thought he was a very pious young man; a very proper, pious young fellow who could pontificate at great length about not very much. So we suggested things. I remember at the time, I made two suggestions which were adopted. One was that here, a lot of kids came to school hungry and their first meal of the day was lunch which was a Federal lunch. Some of the teachers thought that they ought to have a breakfast. Dean Smith and I were co-chairmen of an ad hoc committee to get breakfast for the kids. We started something and we got some breakfast out of surplus food which is pancakes and eggs and cereal. So I suggested that at this next Goldman group and everybody thought it was good. That was when they had the War on Poverty and Sarge Shriver was coming to our meetings. So they started one, a national breakfast program, which was good. Then the scholarship was the third thing. I said we ought to recognize scholars. I forget what for, but for some purpose. They did that. They invited two from every state to come to the Rose Garden and be decorated by the President to something. And that was my idea. My third idea was Guantanamo Bay was a big issue, in Cuba.
ANN McCOLL:
What was the issue?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, the Cubans were starting to…. We had our military there and the Cubans periodically would cut off the

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water and the electricity and whatever and wouldn't let the Cubans who worked there go back and forth. And I thought there ought to be some way of resolving that. So I suggested that we pull out the military because we don't need military there anymore with airplanes, and make it an inter-American public health center for everybody to deal with pellagra or whatever the disease. LBJ liked that and he established something at Howard; scholarships for Latin American health professionals.
ANN McCOLL:
At Howard University?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. He didn't like to give up Guantanamo Bay.
ANN McCOLL:
But he liked the idea?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
But he liked the concept of doing an inter-American health program. Then the Viet Nam war heated up and we were all invited to some meeting and many of us decided that we would go and picket the White House an hour before we went in to protest the Viet Nam war. That was our last meeting.
ANN McCOLL:
I take it you think it was more than coincidence?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
We met every two or three months for about a year and a half.
ANN McCOLL:
I bet that was exciting.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, it was, because we ate at the White House mess, you know. I'd always grab at least ten things at the White House mess.
ANN McCOLL:
You got to meet a lot of different people?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. The President would try to make an appearance every time. Dr. Goldburg would come by and McNamara, you know.
ANN McCOLL:
What was your impression of the President from that?

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DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Very favorable because he was very affable and very receptive and said, "It's so nice of you to drop what you're doing and come down here. I know you're all very busy," and so on. He'd always say very nice things and then he'd leave. You know, he'd say, "I'm sorry I have to go see the Ambassador of Great Britain. But I'm sure Secretary McNamara will be of use and be helpful and be glad to help." Then they'd all disappear by lunch time except for Max Goldman who was our titular leader and Bill Moyer.
ANN McCOLL:
So this would be an all day event?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
A weekend. Yes, we'd start on Friday night and go through Sunday afternoon.
ANN McCOLL:
Do you know if other Presidents do the same thing, or was this an idea that he had?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Think tanks? Yes. Roosevelt had a think tank. A brain trust. He had a brain trust of people and this was supposed to be modeled after that. The U.S. News and World Report had a big story about us, as everybody did who was on that think tank; a bunch of radicals. But I remember it was the time of the Bay of Pigs. Adlai Stevenson came around a time or two. And I remember, I forget who was sitting at my lunch table, but I said something to the effect that I liked Adlai Stevenson very, very much and had campaigned heavily for him both times he ran, but after the Bay of Pigs he was our ambassador to the United Nations. He got up there and denied that we had anything to do with it. And I said something about he lost me there. I don't like people who lie and I don't like people who lie publicly and

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his subsequent defense when it came up was that we did have something to do with it. What he meant was that they didn't leave from the United States soil because we only had a ninety-nine year lease on that place or something. And I said, "You know, that's only compounding the problem." Three or four people at my table said, "Dan, you don't understand real politics," or something and they were defending him. That was sort of discouraging. But the other thing I remember was the cameraman. He was a wonderful guy. We shared a room every time. One night at about 11:00 when we were over for the day, we went down to a bookstore to get something to read and we got, Lady Chatterly's Lover. No, Fanny Hill. Fanny Hill was the big book. He didn't buy it. He wouldn't. But I bought it and then he took mine home with him. So those are my organizations and largely they are ad hoc. It all depends on what the issues are. Most recently was the peace in the Gulf. We had four thousand people protesting in Durham and our group sponsored the march from the church to the post office and so on. Last week we had a meeting to see where we should go from here; if we should go from here at all. We had eight people present.
ANN McCOLL:
The tides have turned.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. Nobody cares anymore. So we talked about whether it's worthwhile to keep the organization going in case Bush wants to go somewhere else next. We decided we all know each other and we can, with a few telephone calls, we can mobilize again. No more meetings. So that's that.

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ANN McCOLL:
I'd like to change pace for a minute. We've been talking about the organizations you've been involved in in the past or are a current member of, and I'd like to switch to some of your future plans. I was wondering if you can tell me something about your ideas for a public interest law school?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, this goes back a long way into the seventies. I worked with Frank Thompson who was the Congressman from New Jersey and the head of the Labor Management Relations and a very popular Congressman and a good friend of Kennedy's. He'd been the co-chair with Whizzer White on Voter Registration and McGovern asked him to be the same thing in his campaign. Gene McCarthy was his old-time buddy. They all were in the House together when Jack Kennedy first came. So it was sort of an Irish mafia crowd. They all liked to laugh and live it up. In any event, he was on the Woodrow Wilson Foundation at Princeton University and Nick Katzenback who was later the Attorney General and the Secretary of State was also on the Woodrow Wilson. And President Kohene, I think his name was, at Princeton found out that the Woodrow Wilson School is for public administration. And public administration was sort of losing some of its attractiveness to law schools. So President Kohene asked Katzenback and Frank Thompson to see if they could not work some sort of a program in the Woodrow Wilson School to bring in law. So Frank Thompson asked me to make some notes and I did. The Woodrow Wilson was a two year program and they spent time in Washington interning in the Congressional offices and working for the agencies. We thought we would expand and have a two year and

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a three year program; one for public management and the other for law. But each would include a year in Washington and the law thing would be public law oriented with just enough of the other to pass the Bar. So that was a proposal that went to President Kohene and he favored it, but then he resigned. His successor came in and was not interested. He said, "I cannot start a law school at this point." And he talked about having the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton work something out with the University of Pennsylvania Law School where Woodrow Wilson's people could go to Penn Law School and take Constitutional Law or whatever, you know. So that ended that idea, but Frank Thompson thought it was a great idea to have such a law school. So Barnaby Keeny was a good friend of Frank Thompson and he was the head of the government funded arts program. He was also the President of Brown University, so Frank Thompson asked Barnaby Keeny, "How about setting up a law school at Brown?" They don't have a law school in Rhode Island. Barnaby Keeny liked Frank Thompson. They went fishing together all the time. He thought it would be nice to have Frank Thompson there, so he put it before his Trustees and they said, "Well, we tried that once and it didn't work." That was in 1836 or something. So that was out. But then Barnaby Keeny stopped being the President of Brown. He'd reached retirement age. He went to Claremont right outside of Los Angeles which has four or five colleges all under the same common supervision. He went out to head the graduate school and they had Scripps and Pomona and Harvey Mudd is their engineering school. So he suggested to the President there that they might

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want to start a law school. So Frank Thompson and I were invited to Pomona to go see the President and meet with the heads of each of the institutions and make a tour and talk to the political science departments and so on, and we did and it was very, very nice. We had dinner with the Trustees and I sat next to the guy who is the president at a major oil company that does business with Russia. He was just back from Russia. In any event, everything was fine and the President liked the idea. We had a breakfast with he and his wife at his house. Frank Thompson, Barnaby Keeny and I. "When could I be available?" and all that sort of thing. But each of the institutions had veto power. Pitzer was the newest of them and that was sort of an experimental, undergraduate college and they vetoed us. They thought we would interfere with their fund raising drives. But all the others wanted us, so that was a disappointment. And then the New College which was started in Florida where the Barnum and Bailey Circus is, was interested. The President of that had interned for Frank Thompson at one time or had done something. So he invited us down. But then they went bankrupt and that ended that. So we put it on ice for awhile. Then Frank Thompson got caught in ABSCAM and what to do? So, we thought, "Let's see if we can't float our college again; the law school." And the essence of the law school…. All the law schools are alike now. They are pretty much peas in a pod. Wherever you go they teach the same subjects in the same way and the students are all super-acheivers from the beginning and the professors are all people who were number one, two or three in their class and

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edited the Law Review and had three years at a prestigious job in Appellate Court or a firm or something, and then go into teaching. Just like in English, you get your Ph.D. and go into teaching. So, I thought there ought to be a different kind of a law school; one where people are kind to one another and that the professors have all achieved. They should be achievers, not academically, but in the public arena.
ANN McCOLL:
This sounds a little bit like what you talked about this Law School being like when you first came here. The professors had been very active and had maintained their interest.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
I thought we should have people like Nick Katzenback and Frank Thompson and Ramsey Clark; good lawyers, fine lawyers. But also people who have done things. There is a friend, Mary Smith, who is a fellow trade commissioner who thought she'd like to do things like that. People who have done things in government. And that would be the faculty. And the students would be a hodgepodge of some superachievers like the normal ones and a lot of late bloomers who had been in the Vista Corps or had been community organizing or in ACORN out in Arkansas and Texas. The guy who had been the head of the Young Democrats or the editor of the school newspaper or the head of the debate club or whoever, and who had a C average, but was interested in public concerns. And then the other group we thought of would be the people who had been teaching English or selling insurance and are now in their early thirties and want to do something else. And then the woman whose children are now in school and she is free

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to further her education, and the person in his fifties or sixties who has always wanted to be a lawyer. That would be our mix. It would be no more than a hundred and no more than ten on the faculty. And everybody would know one another. So you don't have the inhibition from the strangers sitting in large numbers. We would sectionalize in small classes. The tuition would be deferred so there would be no economic barrier; to pay a thousand dollars to prove good faith or something. Other than that, you wait until you graduate if you want to. If you want to pay, that's great. Then when you graduate you pay on the proportion of whatever you make; not a fixed amount. So if you want to go into public service where it pays eighteen thousand you pay ten percent. If you want to go into a big firm and get eighty thousand, you pay ten percent. So, it's to remove the economic barriers as much as possible. Graduates would not be faced with big loans which require that they make big money to pay off the big loans. Then the curriculum would be largely public service, public law things with the second year in Washington where they spend their days in the Congressional offices for one semester and then they are interns for the Commissioners or Labor Board members or head of the Anti-Trust or something. If you only have a hundred, you could work that out. And then at night, they'd go to Georgetown or G.W. or Howard or someplace and take a light load. Part of the load would be administrative, legislative law and they'd meet every Friday afternoon with a special person in charge, but they bring in all the speakers and talk about what's doing and how it all works. So that would be the agenda. Then

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they would come back in the senior year and have, hopefully, a semester outturning somewhere, in the Attorney's General's office in Alaska or the NAACP in Mississippi.
ANN McCOLL:
So they only have one and a half semesters?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Then you have to go to summer school. Then in the summer we have a group of visitors who come in for a week or ten days and give free lectures in the evenings. It's at Wilmington so it's near the beach. Julius Chambers talks about civil rights and you know, we'd get an environmentalist and a women's rights. Miss Lichtman, who is the head of the Women's Legal Defense Fund, she's all signed up. All these people are signed up. So that's the proposal. And then the faculty would be half senior people who, again, have achieved. Like around here, Judge Martin who is a great judge and a great lawyer.
ANN McCOLL:
The Supreme Court Justice?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. And he's facing retirement. Also, Richardson Preyer who was a lawyer, a state judge, a Federal judge, a Congressman. He knows what it's all about. He was the Vice President of Wachovia Bank for awhile. So the idea is Mark Hopkins on the one end of the log and a student on the other. So you get somebody who has something to say that's worth listening to with as intimate as possible contact with the student body. The others have to be sort of young, because you feel more comfortable going to see somebody who is not Richardson Preyer, you know. Emily Preyer, you know. So it would be half and half. So that's the essence of it all and where we are is that I have a place in Wilmington at the Tyleston School where they have agreed

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to let me have the third floor if we have a legal service in the basement. I have retired people who can defer their salary until the tuition is deferred. And I have about three thousand law books with a basis for a library and no money. I've been rejected by the best foundations in America that you would think would…
ANN McCOLL:
Why do you think they would…
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, Tom Lambeth runs the Z. Smith Reynolds and I've known him for a long, long time, so I went to him first. He was enthused and he thought it was a good idea. He was going to sound it out one on one with the members rather than taking it to the Board as a Board; to get some support that way. He was going to take it to the legal people. Well, I know them all. Half of them are former students. And I thought, "That's great, because they will be for it." What I wanted was a million dollars over five years and they said it would cost far more than that to have a law school. I underestimated. And secondly, is there really a need? Wouldn't it be better to find people who do go into public service and pay off their debts? Wouldn't that be a better use? A tuition rebate type of thing. And third, did we really want to isolate all the good people in North Carolina in Wilmington when they ought to be dispersed around. These are the reasons I got. I saw Mary Siemans whom I'd known since we started the ACLU together and she's the Duke Foundation and she said that the original grant identifies seven institutions who get the money and then what's left over goes for the arts and the music program, and so on. So, I'm discouraged. Very discouraged.

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ANN McCOLL:
One of the things you said they told you that the people in public interest should just go to the regular law schools and get their loans paid back. I wonder if you see any problems that people who are interested in public interest law have in going to…
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, you're a rarity; your interest in public interest law. And you've done well in the law school, but this law school like every other law school is staffed by people who come from the big firms and they are big-firm oriented. And then we have three or four tax professors and two or three corporate law professors and so on. They talk about doing tax work and doing corporate law, and am I not right that the one who gets the job in Covington and Burly to do corporate litigation or something is the one who is the esteemed star in your class? And who gets the flybacks to the big firms. They've got four of them and what are you going to do? Well, they're despoilers and they pay well and they're respectable. And that's it. And if you say, "Well, I'd like to do something else," there's something wrong with you. So you're driven by a social pressure where the idea of the big bucks and the big firm and the big corporate world. People who aren't that sometimes sort of feel, "Well, I don't like that law school. I'm going to go and do my classes and then get the hell out." You hardly ever see them. Some join the Lawyer's Guild and some join the Speaker's Bureau and the women's groups and so on. And they may be very bright and do well or they may not be, but they are a minority. Then there's not much discussion in law school as far as I can tell. Certainly not in the classes. I

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have a hundred who come to Constitutional Law, something real critical, and nobody makes a peep because they are afraid of the five or the eight who carry on a discussion. It's too bad. First year students in their small sections are all raising their hands, very excited. So we drive it out of them somehow.
ANN McCOLL:
Well, I certainly personally agree with your assessment and think that people who are interested in public interest probably have the hardest time in law school because they aren't in any strong way supported in their efforts. Until your law school comes into existence, do you have any suggestions or words of encouragement for people who are doing this track for how to make them get through law school and not lose their sense of mission?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
So many come to law school because law is a tool for social engineering or whatever, and that is quickly sort of driven cut of them somehow. I do my best in all my classes.
ANN McCOLL:
What's going to happen once you leave, though?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
I wrote all this up in the Nova Law Review. They had a big symposium on legal education and so I wrote it all up, so it's all down in black and white. I have two foundations left, and then I don't know of anymore.
ANN McCOLL:
Do you think there's a possibility of private money? You know, not through foundations, but just wealthy individuals?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
I don't know too many wealthy individuals and most wealthy individuals put it into foundations or something. But I got a call last week from somebody who says he's forty and he's always wanted to go to law school. He's an engineer and he's in

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wilmington and he understands that I may start a law school and, "When am I going to do it?"
ANN McCOLL:
You've already got a customer.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Well, I've got a lot of customers. But I said, "Well, I need money." And he said, "How much?" And I said, "Two hundred and fifty thousand a year for five years." He says, "That's not much. Why don't we sell stock?" I don't think you can sell stock in a nonprofit institution or something. And he said, "Well, get fifty people to put up ten thousand each," or something. Well, I mean, you know, it's very hard to do. So I don't know. Maybe some day somebody will…. There was Antioch which was built different. And then there's Northeastern in Boston where they have a work study program. After the first year, you spend three months outside in any number of things and then back for three months. So it's rotating back and forth which is common at Antioch and a lot of undergraduate colleges do that. Then there's Queen's College, the city college in New York, that started a law school about five years ago which was to be different. They have different names for the curriculum and they get elderly and middle aged and young and late bloomers. They had seven thousand applications for the first class of a hundred.
ANN McCOLL:
Wow. So there's definitely a need out there.
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes. They are all union organizers. You needed to know law, you know. And you get reporters who want to…. Every time I am interviewed by a newspaper or a radio station,

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the young person interviewing me says, "Well, put me down in your first class."
END OF INTERVIEW