Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, November 19, 1990. Interview L-0144. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Relationship with Luther Hodges and disagreement regarding role of the university president

Friday discusses underlying tensions between himself and Governor Luther Hodges during the mid- to late 1950s regarding issues of civil rights and desegregation. In particular, Friday recalls how years later he heard that Hodges had been quite critical of his approach to desegregation and his belief that the presidency was "an academic educational position." At the time of their interactions, however, he recalls that the relationship was cordial.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, November 19, 1990. Interview L-0144. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

What was the position of Luther Hodges, in all of this?
He didn't interfere very much. He created the Board. He got all the actor's together, and he went onto other things. He was trying to build a community college system. He was stimulating that in every way he could. And he was really rolling on the industrial development, even then. And @ at least I've never @ he'd ever call me about it. He would not inject himself into the discussions we were having. Because he was Chairman of the University Board, you see. And that got him into some stress, too. Because the University Trustee's were looking straight at him every time an issue got called. And I stayed one step back. Because that was there problem to work out.
How would you describe your relationship with him? As a working relationship?
Well, as far as IߞI know, in the beginning it was quite good. And I worked hand and glove with him. And we kept going all along. When the integration issue came up, he called me one day, and I could tell he had something on his mind but he just wouldn't come right straight at me, and finally he said, "Just had a legislator in here. What are you going to do with the University President who goes to a church where that fellow Charlie Jones is a preacher?" And the Governor sort of laughed. And I said, "Well, it's true Governor." That ended the conversation. He didn't have anymore to say about it after that. I had a friend of mine to call and tell me that at the end of the time, and this he never discussed with me, but he got very put out with me, I guess, because I wouldn't move the office to Raleigh. And I took a very hard position on that, because I've always viewed the Presidency as an academic educational position. If it were nothing but an administrative position, then you should have abolished the presidency and kept the Board of Higher Education. It's a bookkeeping thing, and an allocating kind of formula-based existence, as some State's have. And that's okay. But that's not a job for me. I didn't want to be involved with anything like that. I wanted to be where the action was. Where people were doing things, and working up plans, and really doing something about the State's future. But he apparently didn't @ now, this is all hearsay, so you'll have to check with somebody else, but he apparently had wrote some letters that were caustically critical of me. I haven't seen them. And I regret that, because he died soon after that. And I never had any sense of anything but the most cordial relationships with him, but maybe something did happen. I just don't know.