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Title: Oral History Interview with Julius L. Chambers, June 18, 1990. Interview L-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Chambers, Julius L. , interviewee
Interview conducted by Link, William
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, 2007
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Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
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2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
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Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Julius L. Chambers, June 18, 1990. Interview L-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0127)
Author: William Link
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Julius L. Chambers, June 18, 1990. Interview L-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0127)
Author: Julius L. Chambers
Description: 103 Mb
Description: 30 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 18, 1990, by William Link; recorded in New York, New York.
Note: Transcribed by Karen Brady-Hill.
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 Julius L. Chambers, June 18, 1990.
Interview L-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Chambers, Julius L. , interviewee


Interview Participants

    JULIUS L. CHAMBERS, interviewee
    WILLIAM LINK, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
WILLIAM LINK:
I guess I'd like to start just by asking you to tell me any general perceptions you have about Bill Friday? How he operates? What his mode of operation is?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Well, I thought Bill Friday was one of the most impressive educational leaders we've had in a long time. And I think that's national, as well as in the state. He was a genius in terms of bringing people together to build a type of consensus for programs or objectives that he was trying to achieve. He believed in notices and communication, and I think he had an interest in education. But I really looked at him more as a type of political leader for the state who was able to work for the University in bringing in the resources that were needed to promote an educational program. And he relied on educators to develop the type of education that was needed for the state. To me, he was extremely impressive. He was able to cross racial, gender, lines. And while he left some enemies in the wake, he was able to build enough of a consensus to advance objectives that I think he believed were important.
WILLIAM LINK:
He doesn't seemed to have left too many enemies? It's kind of hard to find somebody who—

Page 2
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Well, I think that they're some. And I don't think anybody should expect to be able to live in this country and to make some contributions and not produce some enemies in the way. There are some people who I know who thought he was overly assertive. Who thought that—who would say that they thought he was devious, in some sense. But, on the whole, when one steps back and looks at what he was doing and what he had to do, to me, he was extremely impressive. And he's certainly not one of—not someone that I consider to be an enemy. And I'm not one of his enemies; I'm one of his admirers.
WILLIAM LINK:
You were on the Board of Governors? Is that right?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Yes.
WILLIAM LINK:
In the 1970s?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Yeah, in the seventies. I think from around '72, or something like that, through around '76.
WILLIAM LINK:
So it would have been the Board of Governors, as it was in existence, following the reorganization of the early 1970s?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Right.

Page 3
WILLIAM LINK:
Were there rough edges to that reorganization, from the point of view of the Board of Governors, being on the Board of Governors? Did you see much in the way of changes that had to be effected in order to make the system work?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Yeah. There were a lot of changes that had to take place. I think the Board of Governors replaced the State Board of higher ed. And the Board of Governors came in with authority to direct a lot of things that the State Board only had authority to do—to try to influence the proposed policies and then programs. The Board of Governors came in as the governing agency for higher ed across the state. And this meant bringing together, not only the then three major entities of the University system, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, and Raleigh, but also the five-year colleges, and the four-year colleges, and the traditionally black institutions. This was a major undertaking. Additionally, the Board ended up with authority over some private schools in terms of the types of degrees, etcetera, that they could grant. And there was, during that period, some monies that were being appropriated by the state, to support some of the programs at private institutions. So it was a rather all-encompassing board that required some major changes

Page 4
in leadership in bringing these institutions in the fold.
WILLIAM LINK:
The old Board of Trustees that used to govern the three—three-member Consolidated University of North Carolina, then the six-member Consolidated University that included Charlotte, and Asheville, and Wilmington. From my point of view, that old Board of Trustees seemed to have been a smaller group of people that seemed to represent—the Executive Committee seemed to run things. And the same people seemed to be on the Executive Committee. I'm wondering, the Board of Governors—is it correct to say that the Board of Governors opened things up a little bit? Was there greater representation? Greater —
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Well, it opened things up a little bit in the sense that it brought onto the board a number of people who were previously on some of these local boards. It brought—or it opened opportunities for folk to get on the Board of Governors who never would have gotten on some of these local institutional boards. Because the major educations in the state were really almost seats that you passed down, with some heritage or something. And you inherited a seat. You know, you had to be the governor, or head of Wachovia, or NCNB, or whatever, to get on. And they had no

Page 5
blacks on the board. Limited number of women, except over at Greensboro. And this organization of the governing board was designed to open up opportunities for forces within the state, to have a more effective role in the governance of the higher ed.
WILLIAM LINK:
Tell me about the origins of the desegregation case against the University of North Carolina. There's a lot of history behind all of it, as there is any form of desegregation or segregation.
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Well, I guess one has to think back to the 1950s, or even earlier, if you want to, when efforts were made by individual blacks to gain admission to the University. And they were initially rejected and later ordered to —the University was later ordered to admit these candidates. And we had a few blacks admitted to Chapel Hill and all over the state, in Greensboro, but the numbers were extremely smaller. And we had six traditionally black institutions that were about 100 percent black. Maybe ninety-nine point nine percent. We had real problems in terms of the financial support from the state for these institutions. And we had really the clear remnants of the past segregation by the state and higher ed, despite the admission of a few blacks to Chapel Hill, or Greensboro, or Raleigh. And that was

Page 6
typical of what was happening in the other southern states that had traditional black institutions of higher ed. Virginia, for example, had its Virginia State, and Norfolk. South Carolina had its South Carolina State. And one could go down the list. In 1969, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a proceeding in Washington challenging the continued funding by the federal government of segregated institutions, not only of higher education, but elementary, secondary schools as well. So that law suit, then called Adams versus—I've forgotten who he was—Fence, who was then Secretary. The Nixon administration had announced that it would not enforce Title VI, which prohibited funding of segregated programs. And based on that policy, and the programs of the Nixon administration, we filed a law suit asking the court to enjoin the Federal government to enforce Title VI. And that litigation grew and changed under each of the new secretaries. But it was designed to require the Federal government direct the states that were receiving Federal funds eliminate the vestiges of past discrimination in higher ed, among others. And growing out of that the court issued an order, and the then Department of Health and Education, directed each of these states, including North Carolina, to come in with a plan for the elimination of discrimination in higher ed. And North Carolina initially resisted, contending that the

Page 7
University was not discriminating. And the Board of Governors became very involved in the University's and the state's response to the Health and Education Department's directive that the state come in with a plan. Some members of the board felt that the University had done all that it needed to do to comply with the mandates of Brown or the constitution. Some others, including myself, felt that the state had woefully failed to do what was necessary to not only ensure equal opportunities in admission for minority students to these institutions, but also to enhance the traditionally black institutions, to make them competitive entities within the university setting. And that was sort of the stage—we got into an extended debates and arguments about what the role—what role the University should play in opening up opportunity. Friday, I think, maybe for political reasons or whatever, took a rather strong position that the University had done all that it needed to do. And you couldn't force minority students to go to Chapel Hill, or whatever other traditional white institution you were talking about. And that they had done as much as was necessary to enhance the traditionally black institution. On the other hand, a number of people argued that A&T, and North Carolina Central, and Elizabeth City, Fayetteville, any other traditionally black institutions, were just there, underfunded and

Page 8
not allowed to play an equal role in providing the educational programs. And that debate continued through the settlement that was finally reached, I guess, with the state and the federal government after Reagan took office. I guess that would have been in the 1980s. '81 And the debate is still going on.
WILLIAM LINK:
Was there—I gather there was a spectrum of opinion on the Board of Governors about this issue. Some people who wanted to do nothing. Some people who wanted to do a little. Some people who wanted to do more. Some people who wanted to do a lot. Is that a —
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Yeah.
WILLIAM LINK:
. . .and coalition building. And I guess then Friday had to build a—or Friday did build a consensus which was somewhere along the middle, or somewhere right in the middle, perhaps?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Uh. Where would you put it? Maybe right in the middle. Or somewhere between the middle and right on the middle. It wasn't the extreme position that some people advocated, telling the government to go to hell. It was more, "Here, look, we are proposing to do A, B, C, or D." "We got like an

Page 9
open enrollment in the sense that people could apply to go wherever they wanted to go. We will provide some small funding support for promoting integration, not only in the traditionally white schools, but in the black schools. And we'll provide some funding to enable minority teachers, or teachers at the minority schools, to get the terminal degree." Or, "We will provide some funds to improve, somewhat, the library facilities or resources at the poor school. But we're not going any further than that. We're not going to adopt what they call 'unreasonable goals' for minority enrollment or the hiring of minority teachers. We're not going to make A&T competitive with North Carolina State. We're going to convert the system into research and doctoral institutions, and masters institutions, and baccalaureate institutions. And the schools will fall where they may in that." And the flagged institutions like Chapel Hill, and State, and Greensboro, will remain flagged institutions. Primarily research institutions of a higher salary base. Really a higher funding base for those institutions. The five-year institutions would include two, at least, of the traditionally black institutions, but the funding for those programs, although facially equal to the other five-year institutions, varied, because at East Carolina you ended up with the doctoral programs at the medical school. And there was, I

Page 10
think, a rather clear disparity in the funding for those institutions, as compared to the—and even in the four-year institutions there were disparities between the black and the traditional white institution. Facially though, was the argument that we've gone A, B, C, or D, to bring in some blacks and to make sure that a few blacks got to the traditional white institutions, and that some whites got to the traditionally black institutions. But there wasn't a commitment to bring the black institutions up-to-par, even in the tiered structure that they came up with to compete with the white institutions.
WILLIAM LINK:
So that was built in the structure, in a sense, and went back, as you suggested earlier, to the—do you think there was a line of continuity between the rather open resistance to desegregation in the 1950s, even to token desegregation, from that point, to, among some people, continued resistance in the seventies?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Oh yeah, yeah. In fact I don't even think that North Carolina would have moved any further in terms of bringing more minorities into the university system but for the pressure, you see, from the Federal government. One sees that even now, in terms of what the University has done under this

Page 11
consent decree, which was finally reached. Very limited goals for minority enrollment in the institutions. Very limited goals for the employment of faculty members and administrators. And basically nothing in terms of the enhancement of the traditionally black institution. And very little was taking place. I was pleased to see, when I was in Chapel Hill, I guess it was in May, that the number of minority applicants has increased. But, I think the state is doing a dismal job with the employment of faculty members and administrators. And even with the enrollment of minority students.
WILLIAM LINK:
The various HEW plans that emerged in the mid and late 1970s, from the point of view of UNC administrators, were criticized because they threatened—or this was the argument that was made—that they threatened the academic integrity of the University of North Carolina. That is, actual program changes—program decisions should be left to the University. I guess the classic case, one of the classic cases, would be some of the proposals that emerged with regard to Central and Chapel Hill, shifting departments, and so on. What was the Legal Defense Fund's position toward that? Was this something that was done on the part of the HEW,

Page 12
without—did it go beyond what you had in mind? Or, was it along the lines with what —
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
I think that one of the concerns that the Fund had was the duplication of programs, which perpetuated desegregation. The lack of enhancement of the traditionally black institutions and then the lack of a definition of a program for the traditionally black institutions that would promote integration and help with the elimination of the segregation of the past. The administration argued, that is, the state, that the types of criteria or programs being advanced would improperly invade the province of the University to decide on higher education issues. And I think the administration continues to argue that. But if one is breaking up a system, like that we were addressing, we felt that it was important and, in fact, insist on programs that would lead to that type of "integration" of higher ed. And one could argue that this invaded, somewhat, the authority of the institution. But, hell, if you're ordering desegregation of the schools, that is going to invade province of some people that make some decisions anyway. You have to. There's no way to really achieve a truly integrated system of higher ed without directing that state, and other states, to make modifications in the existing programs. But the University administration did argue that this invaded

Page 13
the authority of the University to decide on educational programs.
WILLIAM LINK:
How did your communications with Bill Friday go during this period of rather sharp disagreement about the future of the University? Did you find communication open? Was it —
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Oh sure, we could talk. We met. We talked in board meetings, and outside of board meetings. And, again, I never considered Friday to be operating with any lack of integrity. I thought he had a position. I thought he felt it was necessary for the University, politically, and otherwise, to advance a more limited position than what we ever gave. We felt, on the other hand, that it was, for blacks in North Carolina, that was extremely important for us to advance a much more active role on the part of the University, than what the University administration was suggesting. I had gone to a traditionally black institution in the state, and I knew what resources that institution had, and what the limited resources it still has. I knew about the faculty at traditionally black institutions, and I can make comparisons. I had gone on to Chapel Hill, as well, for law school. And then from the vantage point of the board, I talked with a number of administrators at the other institutions in

Page 14
the state. And I knew about Pembroke. And I knew about Elizabeth City. And Winston-Salem. Or whatever. And I knew that simply following this limited path that the University administration was advocating was not going to do anymore than what it had. So, there was a strong position advanced by blacks in the state, and on the board, for a much more equitable distribution of the resources.
WILLIAM LINK:
What was the position of the traditionally black institutions toward the question of desegregation? Did you get—in a certain sense, strong programmatic changes could be interpreted as threatening the integrity of traditionally black institutions, or so the argument has gone. I've heard that before. I'm wondering what your perspective is on that?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Well, I think there was sort of a problem in the leadership of traditionally black institutions. One was: With the restructuring, they were under Bill Friday, and the Board of Governors, and one does only so much when one's job is at risk. I think that most of the chancellors of the traditionally black institutions really wanted better programs. And really wanted more funding. And they really wanted the development of library resources, among other things.

Page 15
And I think that they wanted to see a more integrated student body and faculty. In the actual demographics. They wanted, on the other hand, to ensure that those institutions would remain open to provide educational opportunities for minority students. Some had some apprehension about—well, A&T, or Central becoming ninety percent, or 100 percent white institutions. And what that would mean in terms of the future role of that institution, the opportunities of minority students. In other words, a split personality that they had to deal with. And many of them were limited in what they could say. What they—I know, for example, at A&T, the Engineering Department really wanted to become competitive with North Carolina State and Charlotte. Architecture department. And that a private corporation had offered to provide funding for that type of doctoral program that would make that A&T program unique, that corporation wanted to produce more minorities in engineer and architects. And A&T was unable to accept that grant, because that wasn't the role that Bill Friday or the University wanted A&T to play. I know that Elizabeth City really wanted to develop as a four-year, at least, institution in Elizabeth City, which was competing with the College of Albermarle, as I recall. And they were limits on what the then chancellor of Elizabeth City could advocate, for that

Page 16
kind of thing. I know that Fayetteville State wanted to become the regional institution for vet tech. And wanted to be the institution to provide education for the folk at Fort Bragg. And how Fayetteville State was prohibited from doing that, at least during the [inaudible] , because whites at Fort Bragg, for example, didn't want a black institution directing that much of a program. And I remembered how the board brought in—what is it—Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, and North Carolina State, to teach certain programs to allay the concerns that whites at Fort Bragg, for example, had raised about Fayetteville playing this dominant role. I remember what was attempted at Pembroke in terms of having the unique role that it could play. And how the chancellor there was stymied. I understand since that there have been some changes in that the Fayetteville is doing a little bit more than what it was allowed to do back in the seventies. But even so, it is still limited what it has been allowed to do. So the chancellors at the traditionally black institutions, operating under the problems or inhibitions that I've mentioned, really wanted to see those institutions become specialty schools, in the sense that, "I offer the particular type of masters, or doctoral degree, in this area. And that would be unique. And I won't to be in competition with schools that are eight, ten, thirty miles away.

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And will allow my school to become a real significant part of the University system." And, I think, among the present chancellors that the interest is still there.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
WILLIAM LINK:
That would be consistent with the whole position of the NAACP, the Legal Defense Fund, that true desegregation needed to redefine the role of traditionally black institutions in such a way as to redefine their mission.
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Well—I guess one might say that in general sense— I think when we thought—and still do—that the existing institutions in the state should be given a definite role in the higher education system that would allow them to attract students of all races, faculty members of all races. And that those institutions become significant parts of the higher education system. That would obviously require some redefining of the role that these institutions had played. And it would affect the racial composition of student bodies and faculties, but that is moving those institutions toward a type of integrated system that would allow them to be effective and would open up

Page 18
opportunities for minority students and faculty members throughout the state. And not at just some limited number of institutions in the state.
WILLIAM LINK:
As you mentioned, I guess, the chancellors at the traditionally black institutions were in a somewhat difficult position—they had several constituencies they had to satisfy, existed in a fairly centralized system in which they were directly accountable to General Administration. At the same time, I know—I live in Greensboro—I know how central A&T is in the black community in Greensboro. And how strong a sense that institution has of what it is and what it has been in its history. So maybe the messages coming out from the chancellors might have been mixed sometimes? Is that what you're suggesting? Would they say things, perhaps, privately that they wouldn't say publicly?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
I'm sure that happened. I think—you said the messages were mixed—I think one has to figure out what forum one is talking about. If one is talking about a message to the Board of Governors, obviously whatever the chancellor proposed would have to go through central administration. And nothing came there without the approval of central administration. What went to the public, the broader public, would depend on what central administration would approve.

Page 19
What went to a black audience, in some instances, was a message of how we could build this institution into a competing force of the higher education system. And at the same time can preserve this institution as important institution for the black community, for example, in Greensboro, or Durham, or Elizabeth City. You know, interestingly, I think at A&T there was this strong move to ensure that A&T continued to service the black community. There was apprehension with a stronger move toward integration, A&T would be merged into UNC-Greensboro. On the other hand, at Elizabeth City, there was a real desire, as I saw it, for that institution to be the dominant institution in Elizabeth City. And to attract white students in the process. I think that, even at A&T, if there was some belief that blacks could remain in some important position, with an integrated institution, that that fear expressed about a merger with Greensboro wouldn't have been there. But what was behind most of this was fear that blacks, as in the elementary and secondary school merger, would simply be merged out of a job. And would have no role that they could play in higher ed. And that's what I see coming out of Louisiana now. And out of Texas, and Alabama, and Mississippi. And it's still there in North Carolina.

Page 20
WILLIAM LINK:
I guess the reason I keep asking and that I keep harping, not really harping, but talking about this question, is that when I talk to people, either on the Board of Governors, or with the administration, one of the things that they say is that the black institutions weren't enthusiastic about desegregation in the form that it was proposed in the mid-and late 1970s. And I suppose your answer is that they were being told what they wanted to hear?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Well, that's one thing. But then there are some blacks who do argue about integration isn't the best thing we could do. I hear that, and I believe there are a lot of blacks who advocate are as sincere as whites who advocate that there ought not be integration. On the other hand, I think there are a number of blacks who look at what happens long range. The type of funding that you will have. The resources to provide the kind of education or programs that minorities are going to need. A whole look at what happens, long range, with an institution when it's deprived of equal funding, of the funding necessary to make it a viable institution. And who believe that the integration offers the preferable means for ensuring that minorities are a significant part of higher education. So that that difference is there, just like it is in the white community or any other community.

Page 21
And part of the problem, I think, is the fear that by integrating you simply merge everybody out of existence. And those who have dominated society in the past will continue to dominate, with no means for the minority to protect their interests.
WILLIAM LINK:
Why was it that North Carolina became sort of a lead case in higher education desegregation—that attracted the most attention? Did the Adams case apply to the whole North Carolina
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Yeah. But I don't think North Carolina became "The lead Case." I think there were several, for example—we had a separate law suit in Tennessee. Tennessee was taken out of the higher ed. And there was separate law suits in Alabama, Louisiana, and eventually Mississippi. I think Virginia received as much prominence, nationally, as North Carolina. South Carolina proceeded to work out some resolution of the problem, to give South Carolina State some kind of role that satisfied South Carolina State. In short, North Carolina was prominent, but I don't think it was the most prominent, nor that it was singled out as the state to focus attention on. In fact, I think most people assumed that North Carolina, with its liberal image, would be more inclined to try to resolve this

Page 22
matter, anyway. And where they'd be surprised, there was this kind of opposition.
WILLIAM LINK:
I guess that Joseph Califano is attributed to have said that if HEW could win in North Carolina, or I don't know if break North Carolina is the term, but win in North Carolina, he could win the whole region. And whether that's apocryphal or not—it probably is. But there was a perception in North Carolina, I think, in the University, that it was being made —
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Singled out as the example. I'd never —
WILLIAM LINK:
That wasn't the case, in fact.
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
I'd never heard that, I'd never heard that. And knowing the way the issues were approached, generally, I mean, with the Adams case—I never saw that. I'm trying to think about the Department of Education proceeding with hearings. And who was first, or whatever. I know North Carolina was involved in some administrative gearings. I'm thinking, though, that some other states were also. And whether or not Califano said what's been suggested, I don't know, but looking at what actually happened, I don't see that example as true.

Page 23
WILLIAM LINK:
How do you think North Carolina compared with other states, with what happened in North Carolina? In terms of the objective of desegregation, do you think it proceeded—well, did the process of desegregation proceed more contentiously there, or —
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Contentiously in North Carolina?
WILLIAM LINK:
Yeah. Was there more conflict or less conflict?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Nope. I think that people in higher ed have been as contentious, as much opposed to moves that would improve minority participation as North Carolina. I'm just thinking that Tennessee was very contentious and has remained so. Florida was very contentious. And a lot of problems are still there. Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Missouri —just to name a few—and even Pennsylvania has remained—and Maryland. Maryland was able to move towards some kind of resolution of some of these, in the early stages, but it still has its problem. Tennessee—well, I mentioned Tennessee. Georgia still has problems going on. The one thing in Georgia that eased some of that was that Georgia brought a black in as chair of the Regency Board. That helped in some sense. Florida did

Page 24
that, too. And I think South Carolina's stance—again, they worked out something at South Carolina State. I mean, at the Department of Education. They were not involved in that much litigation. Or that much administrative proceedings. But, no, I don't think North Carolina was the most contentious. I think it played its politics and was evolved eventually released by the Department from further proceedings.
WILLIAM LINK:
How did you find the attitude of HEW? Particularly during, let's say, the Nixon and Carter administrations? The Office for Civil Rights, I suppose, would have been the most important agencies that would have been under HEW. Is there a group of people more sympathetic during the Carter years in those agencies? Were they —
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
I think one could argue that. Let's see, we had under Nixon—first of all, we started the law suit because Nixon said they weren't going to enforce Title VI. And I think that attitude prevailed throughout that term. And then we had Carter. He brought in some people who showed more sympathy for claims by minorities, that they were entitled to better opportunities in higher ed. We had the—Mary Frances Berry initially was the Commissioner of Education. And then we had some people in OCR who were trying to do

Page 25
more. There were, throughout the thing, political pressures that limited what anybody in OCR to do. That's why it was necessary to keep going back to court. [inaudible] And we had also, under Carter, a Justice Department that was much more sympathetic to the plight that minorities were raising. And then we had the Reagan era. One of the major political contentions being that government ought not to be that involved in all that higher ed. So there were ups and downs. We had to get a set of criteria in higher ed, because OCR wasn't doing anything. It wasn't about to come up with anything. And when they were directed to come up with some, we spent a lot of time trying to get those criteria improved, so they would be more effective. And then we've gone from lack of enthusiasm for the c riteria to almost complete abandonment for those riteria. And now the Adams case, being argued on the issue, whether the case should remain open and in court.
WILLIAM LINK:
What is your perception of the consent decree that happened in North Carolina in 1981? It became very quickly, six months after the inauguration of Ronald Reagan.
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
It was the complete abandonment of any meaningful effort to eliminate the vestiges of the past

Page 26
discrimination. If one just looked at, say, three, or four, or five issues—in a student assignment, the plan, the consent decree, say, is very low, in terms of the types of goals—those are worse than they were when OCR was involved. In the—though that's true, both in terms of recruitment and actual enrollment, and retention and graduation. If one looks at the hiring of faculty members—reduced goals. The situation is really worse than it was in—let's see, in 1976 or before. And the same is true in administration. If one looks at the enhancement of the traditionally black institutions. We're basically abandoned what we accomplished. They talk very much now about enhancing A&T or enhancing North Carolina Central. That's just not in vogue, and we're back to the same thing we were doing before. If we talk about the governance—as I recall, when the Board of Governors first started off, they had a requirement for six members, minority members of the Board of Governors. What are we down to—three, four members, whatever? So if we look at that consent decree in terms of specifics, we see a worse situation than I think we had beforehand. And the effect of that decree on commitment and interest of people has also been disappointing. Nobody believes there is any incentive anymore in what you're doing. And we do have individual chancellors who talk about an interest in doing A, B, C, or D. But now there's no

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push from up high, I mean, from Washington or from Chapel Hill. [inaudible]
WILLIAM LINK:
The consent decree was part of the Reagan administration's attempt to close down all the structure of Federal involvement in desegregation?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
I think they want to put it that way. I think it was more of a political payoff, at least the immediate [pause] move for that consent decree to the state for supporting the administration during that election of 1980. But the administration did come in office with a type of program of eliminating—or challenging the remedies in practically every area that were trying to provide some relief for minorities and women, and that continued. And it wanted to take a broader perspective, I guess, one could say that happened in North Carolina was part of the overall plan to eliminate desegregation.
WILLIAM LINK:
So you think there were political elements to it, too?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
No doubt about it. No doubt about it. And there's no doubt about i—went from our Senator to the Administration, to the Department of Justice, French Smith, to the-then Assistant Attorney General in

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charge of civil rights to the-then Secretary of Education. And it has been continued, so. I think what happened with North Carolina was so close to the election and preceded real plans for the major assault the Reagan Administration tried to make on civil rights. That's why I'm saying it was something initially outside of what the administration wanted.
WILLIAM LINK:
Did the state get special treatment with regard to this case?
JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Special treatment as compared with other states, yes, more special. I don't really recall a special treatment. I think the Federal government moved more quickly to deal with the issue of North Carolina than they did with others. But what's happened since is about the same thing that happened with North Carolina. The government just proceeded to dismiss the claims about every state that way.
WILLIAM LINK:
In a similar way. Just a little faster for North Carolina. How would you sum up how you think Bill Friday operated in all of this? That he perceived what the consensus of the board was, perhaps, and acted on that, that he was a general admirable person who was on the wrong side of this issue, from your point of view?

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JULIUS L. CHAMBERS:
Well, I think from his long experience with the state that he felt that the state would accept so much, and I don't know if one would say that what finally came out was actually personal commitment on his part. Maybe so. Maybe he felt that way. I don't know. And—but again, maybe he believed that, as some people did back in 1955, that the state wasn't ready to really integrate higher ed. Whether he would take a different position today, I don't know. Did he proceed admirably? I think he proceeded astutely. I think that he saw a way, even in 1981, of resolving an issue that kept the debate going in education in North Carolina and was able to carry a board along with him and to carry the state along with him. Whose benefited? It's something that's going to have to be answered in the long run. What I see what happening now is a decreasing participation of minorities in higher ed. I see an increasing need for people trained—all people trained, to do what's going to be needed in the state. And I see us failing in that effort. It bothers me when I see so few blacks continuing in higher ed—so few blacks graduating with degrees. So few black professionals coming out now. And so few blacks there for possible teaching positions, not only in the university, but in the elementary group. And secondary schools, too. And I fear that that's going

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to be detrimental for the state and for the [Phone ringing] country.
END OF INTERVIEW