North Carolina's unique potential to integrate successfully goes unmet
North Carolina had a unique financial, human, and institutional capacity to integrate successfully, Gerry argues in this selection. He expected that the process would yield more success than it did.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Martin Gerry, August 28, 1991. Interview L-0157. 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
I mean, I think it's a great
vehicle ߞI'm sure you've
exploredߞI will say this: I think North Carolina, in
comparison with all of the other southern states that I've
dealt with, except maybe Florida, and that's questionable,
clearly had the capacity to do the most. And if it didn't do
the most, in a sense of really significantߞI mean, capacity
meaning the human capacity, the financial capacity, the institutional
capacity. You know, when you talk about North Carolina in the same
breath with, say, Arkansas, they're just fundamentally
different. They're not the same thing at all. Where Arkansas
had the capacity of accomplishing is, what I'm saying is,
tremendously less. And I think in terms of outcome, from what I can see,
and that's very superficial, they
never did that. Now, whether that was because of the politics or the
leadership, whatever it was, it wasn't capacity. And
that's the one thing that I think I stillߞit keeps
me wondering about North Carolina.
- WILLIAM LINK:
All this made North Carolina a special case?
- MARTIN GERRY:
In a way.
- WILLIAM LINK:
Deserve special attention.
- MARTIN GERRY:
Well, had we gone down to Oklahoma or Arkansas and started arguing about
veterinary medicine schools, it's kind of like arguing about
nuclear fission in the Olympic[?] times. I mean, they were just trying
to get the damned university to run. They weren't in this
level of detail. They really did haveߞI mean, the
leadershipߞit's hard to describe thisߞbut
if you took the top five people in the leadership of several of those
states and looked at them in comparison with Bill Friday's
people, you know, there just wasn't any comparison in terms
of capability, support systems, and resources. I don't know
why or how but, I mean, it's clear to me, obviously, North
Carolina put a lot of money into higher education. And Friday had
doneߞand had some extensive investments. That obviously had a
lot to do with that. So, to me, there was a lot more to work with. Now,
you can argue that that made it a lot harder and maybe it did. But
that's the balancing act I would do with North Carolina.
Because of the ten states I'd sayߞand even Florida,
Florida might be the other one to discuss. But there just
wasn't that much there. Virginia is an interesting case
because of Jefferson and the University of Virginia. And, indeed,
Virginia at the time put a lot of effort into the University of
Virginia. But it didn't system-wide. Now, that's
changed some. But North Carolina really had a lot going.
That's, you know, just an observation. If you looked at, you
know, what happened in the six states I wouldߞhad it been a
question of just everybody doing the same level of effort I would have
expected the outcomes in North Carolina to have been a lot better.
Because I think they started from a much better base.