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Title: Oral History Interview with Billy E. Barnes, October 7, 2003. Interview O-0037. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Barnes, Billy E., interviewee
Interview conducted by Gritter, Elizabeth
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: 196 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.
2008-01-04, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Billy E. Barnes, October 7, 2003. Interview O-0037. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series O. Foundation History. Southern Oral History Program Collection (O-0037)
Author: Elizabeth Gritter
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Billy E. Barnes, October 7, 2003. Interview O-0037. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series O. Foundation History. Southern Oral History Program Collection (O-0037)
Author: Billy E. Barnes
Description: 278 Mb
Description: 58 p.
Note: Interview conducted on October 7, 2003, by Elizabeth Gritter; recorded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Elizabeth Gritter.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series O. Foundation History, 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 Billy E. Barnes, October 7, 2003.
Interview O-0037. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Barnes, Billy E., interviewee


Interview Participants

    BILLY E. BARNES, interviewee
    ELIZABETH GRITTER, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
This is Elizabeth Gritter. I'm recording an interview with Billy Barnes at his home on October 7, 2003.
I come from the North; I come from Michigan. It's so interesting to me that with the whole fund and so forth that you as a white Southern man took this interest in racial justice and having—I can see with your pictures—positive portrayals of African Americans. I know even now media does not do that. So, I'm wondering how you ended up getting interested in racial justice issues.
BILLY E. BARNES:
I was a journalist in Atlanta during the civil rights era and I saw things that were happening in Atlanta in terms of boycotts of the big Rich's Department Store and picketing and that sort of thing. Also, I was influenced to some extent by a close personal friend of mine who was a journalist in the same publishing

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company that I was working for. He was from Atlanta but he had spent a lot of time up North and we talked a lot about civil rights and so forth. When the Montgomery—I think it was Montgomery and not Birmingham — when the church was bombed and killed those, I think it was, eight little kids, Jack, my friend, and I went, not as journalists. When we heard about the bombing, we looked at each other and thought, "What can we do?" What we did was we decided to go show a white face at that church when they had the funeral. So, we drove over to Montgomery on the day of the funeral and attended. Everybody else who was white who I could see was an assigned journalist. They put them all up here in the press gallery. We asked them not to do that. We told them we wanted to sit with the rest of the folks. Martin Luther King spoke at the funeral, was the key speaker. That wasn't a turning point. I was already getting to be a pretty ripe liberal, but that was, I think, subconsciously—. I didn't come back thinking, "Gee, I got to get out of what I'm doing and do something that has a social impact." But, in my heart and in my subconscious, I was thinking on these things.
Also, there's a woman whose name that I can never remember who wrote a marvelous book called Passages. Have you ever heard of it?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
I have.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Have you read it?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
No.
BILLY E. BARNES:
It's a story about—I think the first one she wrote was about men and I think she also wrote another one about women — how American men, to a large extent, many of them middle-class American men, go through certain stages. They get out of school and whatever education they have and about all they're interested in is money and

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women. Then, they kind of settle down and they marry and they have a family. Then, when they hit about 31 or 32, they have a period when they begin to think, "What am I doing with my life? What am I doing on my job except making money?" I, in fact, had been thinking those things, although I had never read Passages at that time. I read it later and thought, "Boy, that's me." She didn't interview me, but it sure looks like it. In 1963, when I first got a call from the North Carolina Fund, I was 32. I was kind of in that mood. "Gee, this is a great job. It's great fun. The money's not bad. I'm feeding my family. I live in a nice city. I'm in the South, where I like to live. But am I using my talents in a way that the Lord would like me to use them and that I can feel proud when I'm on my deathbed, that I can feel proud that I was involved in this, [that] at some time in my life, I was involved in something more that making money?"
So, at my most, most vulnerable point, I got a late call one night—it was real late, it was after midnight — from an old professor of mine named John Ehle. Does that name mean anything to you?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
I've heard that name.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Okay. John Ehle was a novelist, is a novelist. [Barnes points to bookshelf in his living room.] That shelf up there under the girls' pictures is almost entirely his books. I had him as a professor of television writing. I stayed in correspondence with him and one other professor in that school through the years. John quit teaching and went to work for Terry Sanford as one of his -. Terry had about five bright youngish men who were his idea people. Terry was not a terribly innovative man, but he was very good—John Kennedy was a lot this way -at finding very creative people and heading them in the right

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direction and listening to them when they talked. So, John was one of those people. Well, John helped Terry develop the North Carolina Fund along with a lot of other stuff.
So, they formed the fund and hired George Esser as their executive director. They were going to hire four or five staff people. That's how big the North Carolina Fund was supposed to be originally. They decided they needed someone who could interpret A) what the fund was doing, and B) why they were doing it, that is, what are problems of poverty in North Carolina? John thought of me and he called me and said, "Would you come up and talk to us about this job?" And one thing led to another, and that's the way that happened. I was not glad to leave my other job because it was a wonderful job. My wife was not glad to leave Atlanta because she had a whole lot of friends there. But it seemed to me like it was something I ought to do and it was chance to come back to my home state, be near my mother and some other relatives in their old age. We had lived in Chapel Hill before as a couple, as a family, and so it was not like we were going into the unknown. So, that's the way that happened.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
And you'd been covering, like, Rich's Department Store and the civil rights movement in Atlanta or were you more just there at the time?
BILLY E. BARNES:
I was mostly there at that time. I was working for McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, which published 41 magazines. They were all business magazines. One of them was Business Week. One of them was Aviation Week. We had another one in chemicals and so forth and so forth. Mostly I was writing stories about business. We didn't get into politics, and we didn't get into social action. I can't think of anything that I ever wrote during that six-year period that had anything except maybe super-peripherally to do with the civil rights movement. But, it was all around me. We had a

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very active journalism fraternity down there. I knew lots of people who were — who worked for Newsweek or the New York Times or the Atlanta Journal and Constitution — directly involved in this civil rights struggle. So, I was very aware of what was going on but I was not personally involved in it professionally.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
And you were saying about the church bombing that killed the girls, are you referring to the one in Birmingham in 1964, the 16th Street [church bombing], or one that was in Montgomery? The one I think of is the one in Birmingham.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Was the 16th Street [church bombing] the one where they bombed the Sunday school building?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yeah, that's the one. Birmingham and Montgomery are so similar in size and in many ways that I get them mixed up. Yeah, it was the one where they bombed the Sunday school.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Okay, um -.
BILLY E. BARNES:
I think five or six of them were eulogized at the same time. I never will forget the sight of those five or six little caskets sitting up there. And Martin Luther King came in and the first words out of his mouth were, "Jesus looked on the city and wept." Which is right straight out of the Bible where Jesus came to Jerusalem and saw what was going on there and knew what was coming and he wept. And that's what Martin King said. It was a very moving experience.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
One of the things that I saw with the Fund was that later on, as it seemed like the Fund went on, and when the Black Power movement came up, that part of your job was to explain that to people—.

Page 6
BILLY E. BARNES:
Hm. Hm.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
And I think you said in an interview before to show that it wasn't nefarious, the reasons behind why this would happen. And I thought that was really interesting and, in a way, quite radical to take that position of the time. So, if you could tell me about—
BILLY E. BARNES:
Tell me a little more about what position you're talking about.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
In terms of, you know, a lot of the whites or whatever felt really threatened by this Black Power—.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Hm. Hm.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Movement. And, that you actually looked at, like, the roots of it, or, you know, explaining it to the public, that that was part of your job. I was wondering how you went about that.
BILLY E. BARNES:
How I went about explaining it?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah. Right.
BILLY E. BARNES:
We tried to get them to understand the difference between the blacks in other parts of the country who were almost anarchists and didn't mind blowing things up or—. I don't remember any of them killing people. But we tried to get them to understand that the Black Power Movement was a logical extension of the Martin Luther King movement and we tried to understand how that tied in with the War on Poverty. It was not easy to get people to understand the connection there. I think white folks, myself included until I was educated in such things through experience, thought of dealing with the poor as taking them a turkey at Christmastime, not letting them have a slice of the big power pie. I felt like my job was to answer questions people had in my mind as to why are these black people shaking their fists and having rallies and marching and trying to take matters

Page 7
into their own hands? I didn't say this publicly but I always thought it must have been very similar to what it was like when they were slaves. Why, I think white people had the notion that, you know, if we're feeding these people and giving people a place to live, what more could they want? We're benign dictators to them and benign slaveholders, and why aren't they happy? You know, they play their banjos and dance and sing at night. You know, all the old myths. I think there was a lot of sentiment among white people in North Carolina and elsewhere in the 1960s that said, "Look the Supreme Court said our kids have to go to kids with black people and we're slowly integrating the schools and some of them have got better jobs than they ever had before. Why aren't they delighted?" They did not understand power sharing. They did not understand how helpless you feel if they give you a hard time at the voting booth or precinct level, how you feel if you're a Christian and you're excluded from worship from a big Methodist church uptown. Or, how they feel when they go to the county commissioners and ask for something and the county commissioners [are] all white, and, at that time, all male. I ran across a photograph about three days ago of my mother who was the first woman in Forsyth County to ever serve on a jury. And there was a picture of that jury and—actually there was two black men on it —not only was it a jury [but also] a bunch of whatever they call the jurors who are impaneled and aren't on the jury but they're substitutes. What do they call them? Anyway, you know what I mean. They were all men. Two of them were black. Everybody but my mother was male. So, I think women must have felt the same way in those days. Just a few decades ago, women couldn't even vote. You know, "We don't have any power. What's going on here? Why are we left out?"

Page 8
So, that is what I and my staff people tried to say about the Black Power Movement. It was all a matter of: If you're going to help the poor on a permanent basis, poor people of any color, you've got to involve them in the decision making process. Instead of imposing stuff on them that sociologists thought up or that the county commissioners thought up, you've got to talk to them about what their needs are and you've got to give them a vote in deciding how this money is going to be spent. And that, in fact, was a requirement. Because Lyndon Johnson and Sarge Shriver and those people understood that, they tried their best to make it a requirement that before you could get a community grant that you have low-income people and minority people on your board who were active in making these decisions. So, I don't know to what extent we succeeded. But, we tried to answer people's questions. I felt my role was to create materials and to hire people who could either send stuff out or go out into the community and answer these questions that people had: Why is this happening? Why are you going out and organizing black people and poor people in the mountains, poor white people especially in the mountains, into groups to raise Cain and demand stuff? Why can't we just have some nice welfare programs for the poor and let it go at that?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah, when I looked at the interview that Sean O'Keefe conducted of you in 1995, I found it really interesting that you said that the thing you thought you did with the biggest impact was sending the ex-Presbyterian minister around to—.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Exactly.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Communities. If you could talk more about how you employed that strategy. Were there several speakers? Or was he the main person?

Page 9
BILLY E. BARNES:
He was the main person. I'll tell you where I got this idea. While I was still working for McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, I was in Chattanooga covering a national convention of purchasing agents. I was sitting there half asleep. These people were blah, blah, blah, blah, blahing about; mostly, it was they were bragging about what their company was doing in the purchasing area. They introduced this man from American Can Company. I thought, "Well, he's going to try to sell us some cans. Why else would he be here?" Well, the man got up and he could barely walk. He was severely crippled. I couldn't tell that as long as he was sitting at the head table. But he got up on this platform. He took his time getting there and he would've fallen down if he hadn't grabbed the backs of chairs as he moved along. By the time he got to the podium, everybody was sitting on the edge of their seats, wondering whether he was going to make it. So, he had everybody's attention.
He was a magnificent speaker. He didn't try to sell anything. He didn't talk about anything but patriotism and the United States and how great it is to be an American. But he had those people absolutely on the edge of their seats. He talked about thirty minutes. When he got through, it would've been very difficult to write a story about what he said, but he was such a good speaker. The fact that the American Can Company paid this man to go around the country making speeches that didn't even mention cans just impressed the heck out of me. I never had heard of it. I talked to him later. I still got his card. I talked to him later about his profession. He said, "Yeah, all I do is make speeches. I go from place to place to place making speeches." He said, "I don't have any administrative job. I don't have an office at American Can Company. All I have is a card and this speech that I make."

Page 10
With that in the back of my mind, when I realized that I had a lot of money to spend—. When the economic opportunity money started rolling in, our budgets from the Ford and Reynolds Foundation monies suddenly became a lot more flexible. The Fund didn't need them for its own administrative [purposes] or even grants because there was so much federal money coming in, being almost foisted on us, because we were the only ones in the business in North Carolina and really the only ones who had any experience—and ours was only six months — in the South in community action. So, I'm thinking, "I want to think outside the box here." [Interruption] .
We did the usual things. We put out lots of news releases. Some of the top fund people went around and made speeches. We did a quarterly magazine—really, I guess, it was more a bi-monthly magazine — that went out to lots of government officials all over the state and to anybody who was in any way involved with community action in the state. Verna Shmavonian, whom we were talking about earlier, did a lot of work with that. We had a radio series that was playing at one time on 42 radio stations every week. It was a three-minute tape that was an interview with a low-income person to get their point of view. The one that sticks in my mind is: There was this remote part of the mountains where one of the community action agencies we were supporting had started an adult education program for adults who had never learned to read or write. This fellow found a lady who had been in the program and had learned to read for the first time in her life. I think she was in her 80s; she was real old. This fellow who was on my staff and had a lot of radio experience said, "Well, Miss So and So, now that you can enjoy reading, what do you read?" She said, "Well, I have read the Bible three times lid to lid. I just love to read the Bible so I read it three times lid to lid." I had never heard

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anybody use that saying before. He came back with all kinds of stuff which was solid gold. He would edit it into a three-minute story. So, we had tried that. That was slightly innovative but it was something that actually I copied from something a friend of mine was doing for Duke University. And we started making films. I think I produced something like thirty or forty slide shows during that time and six films I guess it was.
But I kept thinking, "What else can we do?" I thought about the guy from American Can Company. I thought, "I ought to send speakers around to talk to community leaders." Now, where do we find community leaders? Well, you find them in the Kiwanis Club and the Lions Club and church groups but especially in civic groups. So, I hired two people. I hired an older man who was perfect for the office work, the logistical work. He stayed on the phone all day, every day, soliciting engagements for the preacher. I found a retired Presbyterian preacher who was a splendid speaker, a man who understood from the start what we were trying to do. I and my whole staff put together a list of the thirty or forty most often asked questions, friendly or unfriendly questions, about the War on Poverty and the North Carolina Fund. I had John Murray, the preacher, memorize the answers to these questions, and he did. So, he stayed on road at least six days a week.
Oh, and also, our guy back in the office— a man named Jim McMillen, the older guy — he would start off with an appointment [for John] with the Rotary Club in Wilson. He'd have a luncheon appointment for the Rotary Club. Then, he would call the Lion's Club, and, if there was another Rotary Club in town, he would call them and try for a dinner appointment. In between he would set up interviews with radio and television stations. So that John was going from place to place all day. We provided John with a

Page 12
car. He would literally be either speaking or on his way to or from or doing a radio or television interview all day if we could possibly arrange it. Boy, it was a tiring job but he loved it. He absolutely loved it. We paid him well. It was a job where he felt like he was really doing something. We provided him with some slides, if the situation seemed appropriate, of what we were doing—health programs, education programs, etcetera.
So, I think he probably — little by little, person by person, answering people's questions, talking with them before and after these appearances, being on radio — was the best investment we ever made. I think he probably did more for understanding than all of the news releases. [Barnes points out a bundle of news releases in a stack of materials on the North Carolina Fund]. I ran across this news release log the other day; theoretically it's every new release we put out. It's in this stack somewhere. Here. That's the size of it. It's fine to have newspaper stories but most people don't read them. But if you've got a captive audience, there's nothing like a captive audience. That's what John E. Murray had. I don't think anybody ever got up and walked out on him. So, you had him there for thirty, forty minutes, to talk to them and answer their questions. I'm sure the question and answer period was more exciting and more convincing than the canned speech. He tailored his speech a little bit for the size community he was in. I'm sure he didn't make the same speech in Charlotte that he made in Choanoke. He traveled all over the state for years doing that. That sort of thing is impossible to measure. Well, the whole public relations is impossible to measure. But, if we did anything worth doing, I think that was it. I bet you there are still people who remember John and what he had to say and maybe had a moment of revelation about the problems of people who didn't

Page 13
manage to make themselves economically comfortable in our society. So, that's story of the itinerant preacher and his speechmaking.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
What time period was this?
BILLY E. BARNES:
I would guess it was about '65, maybe mid- to late 1965. I think both of them worked for me for at least three years.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Oh, wow. Wow. Do you remember any specific examples of him coming back to the office and saying, "I know I made this big impact on this person who came up to me after my speech and told me about how I changed their perspective," at all?
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yeah, I can't think of any specifics. But he did come back. He would be in the office, I think, on Mondays for about half a day and would tell me about some of his experiences. I don't remember any really wonderful anecdotes that he brought back. He did get a lot of questions, but he never got any hostility. To begin with, it was perfect, perfect, to have a Presbyterian minister doing this. If it had been I or someone who didn't have that "Reverend" in front of their name, it would have been a totally different thing. Southern middle-class males, which is probably 95 percent of what he talked to, their mamas built into them some respect for somebody with "Reverend" in front of their name. I don't remember any specific anecdotes; I'm sure there were some. But I don't remember any. Most of the time it was as smooth as silk. I never got any negative feedback. He would always check in with the local folks where there was a community action agency. He would always let them know he was coming to town. He would usually go by for a diplomatic meeting with the local people to see whether there was any controversy, if anything negative had been in the newspaper or positive that he could comment on as part of his presentation. So, we tried our best to keep local folks

Page 14
informed of what we were doing on their turf. I wish I did know some wonderful stories. I have some wonderful stories about other aspects of the Fund and those days. But I don't remember anything untoward or especially exciting that happened to John except that he was—. Both he and Jim, the other guy, are dead now but they were—. [Interruption] . They were wonderful employees.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
This leads me to question about the ideology of the Fund. I noticed — looking through the literature, you know, viewing some of the films - about the emphasis on [the notions of] "We're helping people help themselves."
BILLY E. BARNES:
Hm. Hm.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
That we're not giving people handouts—.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Hm. Hm.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
It's a hand up.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Hm. Hm.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
If you could talk a little about that. I'm curious as to how that was developed. Is it something that you and other fund officials sat around talking about? Or, was it more the public information department? And, how, also, that was influenced by the context of the times—the War on Poverty and so forth?
BILLY E. BARNES:
Well, I guess I had a little something to do with the notion that the Fund is adopting the public posture of being in the business of helping people help themselves rather than as the old [saying goes], "Teach a man how to fish and he'll eat forever or give him some fish and he'll eat one meal." Terry Sanford's rubric was to break the cycle of poverty. He and his folks had done their research before the fund was formed. And he could see there is a cycle in which poverty isn't just a one generation problem. It

Page 15
is the children of poor people are 90 percent assured of being poor. And the children of welfare mothers, their daughters are about 90 percent likely to be the same. And so, it keeps on going on and on and on. Unless something occurs to break that chain of events, that pattern, it's going to be forever and the same people are going to suffer. I kind of took that when I came to work for the fund and tried to add to it the notion that: A) What we were trying to do was to break the cycle of welfare as well. We were trying to give people a chance to learn how to work, not only a skill but the mental mindset of work. I found it amazing when we got into training people for jobs that the first thing you have to train them is how to work—not how to do a specific skill—but the importance of being to work on time, the importance of getting along with the boss, the importance of calling in if you're sick instead of just letting it go, the discipline of work. There is a discipline of work. And if you've never worked at a real job, if what work you did always consisted of cleaning somebody's house for half a day or working in the tobacco fields [for] a couple weeks during the year during the harvest time, you didn't know how to regiment yourself to acclimate to a factory job or a job in a small woodwork shop or in an office. That all has to do with breaking the cycle of poverty.
If you've ever seen the North Carolina Fund logo, what it says on it is "opportunity" and we called our magazine "Blueprint for Opportunity." I never had thought about this question you asked me. I had never felt like I deserved any great credit for introducing this idea and it certainly wasn't my idea. I'm not the first person whoever thought of it but it seemed to me that the idea of opportunity, that we are in the business of making opportunities available for people instead of giving them something to people to sustain them for awhile especially because we were a temporary

Page 16
organization. And I thought from the start that we would be a temporary organization. Most other people didn't, especially people in the press. They had never seen a nonprofit go out of business on purpose before if they could continue to get grants; it just wasn't done. They were all amazed when we went out of business in '69. But, I guess that logo that I worked with a guy in Raleigh on. I had a little competition. I asked three or four different artists to work on a rendering and I kind of gave some ideas about what I wanted. I guess that's a manifestation of the notion I tried to instill in my staff people, that I tried to bring out in speeches I made, that [what] we were trying to do [was] present opportunities for people who wanted to break out of what Terry Sanford called the cycle of poverty.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
What interests me, too, [is] how your fund had the foresight, before even Head Start existed, [to focus] on children and on day care programs and [know] that in order for opportunity to occur, it starts at a really young age. So, if you could talk too about the early childhood part of it. And, I noticed too in a lot of the photographs, a lot of the films, [there was an] emphasis on children.
BILLY E. BARNES:
The first chairman of the North Carolina Fund board was a newspaper editor. He was editor of the Charlotte Observer. His name was Pete McKnight. The second one was a guy from Rose Hill who either was at the time or had recently been the chairman of the state school board. His name was Dallas Herring. He was a little [unknown] guy. He wasn't a very impressive looking person physically and he didn't talk a lot. But he was a very scholarly fellow. And he had been a professional educator. He and Terry Sanford had a lot to do with the North Carolina Fund's notion that if you're going to break the cycle of poverty, you don't wait until somebody is a teenager or in their middle twenties,

Page 17
you start as early as possible to inculcate in them an appreciation for books or the ability to read and start getting them ready for public schools so when they get there they can compete with middle-class kids as they move through school and aren't always stunted. By 1964, things were moving along pretty well in the direction of school integration. Terry was doing all he could to accelerate this without throwing the state into civil war. By the mid-'60s, the schools were pretty well integrated, and this idea of early education which eventually turned into Head Start in North Carolina made a whole lot of sense in terms of getting in there early and helping break cycle of poverty at that age level.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Did you have any influence in shaping Head Start policies in Washington?
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yes, I think the experiences we had with—. Our charter was only about six months old or less when the national War on Poverty movement got started, the Economic Opportunity movement. So, we had not a lot of experience at anything. But, we had a framework, we had a mechanism. We had several projects at time that were already staffed. They had directors. They had staff members. They had involvement with the community. They had involvement with the poor. They had approval, sometimes reluctant, of the local power structure. But we hadn't had a lot of—.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
BILLY E. BARNES:
When I came to work in January of '64, I was the third staff member hired at the North Carolina Fund, not counting clerical help. I was about the fifth person hired, I guess. I think we had two secretaries at the time. And, we hadn't even picked communities in which we were going to operate. Now, Terry's dead, so I don't guess I'll insult him by saying this, but the truth is I think it was 2 and ½ million we gave to the

Page 18
Department of Public Instruction for early childhood education [as] a political sop to keep the education machine off of our backs so we could do what we wanted to do with poor people. In my opinion, I don't mean that money was wasted, it was used to enrich education. But, I never saw any emphasis on education for low-income kids. I don't know what George Esser would say about all this and he's not quite as blunt as I am about such things. At the fund we never paid much attention. The board, under Terry's urging, allocated that money to the state school system and we never saw it; we never had anything to do with it. Now, we did encourage early Head-Start-type programs with our foundation money. Because we already had a framework, we had already selected these communities based on proposals and we were ready to rumble. OEO gave us some of the very first grants in Neighborhood Youth Corps and Head Start.
I've got photographs of a Head Start program in the summer of '64. The kids were all barefoot and it was up in the mountains. I've got a wonderful shot-I don't think I have a print of it now but I have the negative—of these barefoot kids, all of them white, of course. At that time the population of blacks in the Boone area was about three percent and the schools had not been integrated. [Here Barnes demonstrates how the child is holding flag in the picture; a copy of the picture is attached.] These little barefoot kids and one of them is holding a tiny American flag. It's about that long. She's holding it like a soldier would hold a flag. She stick it in her tummy at an angle like this and she's holding it like this and she's got her chin tucked in and the rest of them are pledging allegiance to the flag in the classroom with these little desks. Then, I went in the lunchroom and got some pictures of them doing their Head Start lunches but that's how early [we were involved].

Page 19
See, the Economic Opportunity Act was not passed until maybe April or May of that year. Because I think it was March when Lyndon [Johnson] came to North Carolina to visit some poor folks and George Esser and I went down there and worked with some very antsy Secret Servicemen on the understanding that we were Terry Sanford's representatives working with them to set up this whole thing. And, he brought Lynda Bird with him who I guess was his oldest daughter and he brought Franklin Delano Roosevelt Junior who was assigned some cabinet post and he brought his secretary of agriculture with him. He was getting headlines for the War on Poverty; he was getting ready to introduce the War on Poverty bill.
So, this is by way of my making the point that very, very early we got into business of encouraging the community action agencies which we had already formed and to which we were already making grants, encouraging them to jump on the Head Start bandwagon and Neighborhood Youth Corps bandwagon and try to get all this federal money that they could move as quickly as they could and try to make the best possible use of it. So, suddenly, instead of becoming basically grantors, in a way the Ford Foundation does, where you get a proposal, you decide who is going to get the money, you give them the money and then you send some expert down twice a year to see how much of the money they're wasting. We were changed from that posture to doing some very active things and giving the communities we had picked out for projects, giving those projects technical assistance in managing all this money and putting it where it would do the most good. And we spent a lot of time monitoring and helping OEO monitor to make sure there were poor people and people of color in the decision making. And, we had some real problems with that. There were some very

Page 20
unfortunate hires made by the local people who were on the boards of these community action agencies. I remember they hired an ex-Navy captain at Rocky Mount who hadn't the slightest idea about what it was all about. He was very conservative and conventional in his thinking about these problems and about race and about all of this. We had a hard time getting them to get rid of him and hire somebody with a little better understanding that this was not just another welfare program. So.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
You mentioned that you gave like 2.5 million to the school system to get them off your backs and support the program. I'm a little confused about that. Could you explain that a little more, about the politics with that and why the school system would be a threat to program, to the Fund.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Well, I don't know I could say that the school system would be a threat. At that time and still, not as much now as back then, forty-five years ago, the school system in North Carolina was incredibly [unknown] powerful. They didn't want anybody messing with their turf. I think—I never talked to Terry about this but I think that he thought and George agreed with him and most of board members agreed with him —that if there was going to be any change of our approach to education of kids in general and especially kids of color and kids from low-income families it wasn't going to happen through the school system, because the school system was just too entrenched. They were so powerful they didn't need to listen to anybody, including the governor. These people are there forever. True, the Superintendent of Schools is elected but you get down to the principal level and school board level in Wilson and Goldsboro and Boone, and those people have been on that school board for twenty years and they are not likely to change anything. So, I got the idea that these decisions were made before I got there.

Page 21
One of the first things the North Carolina Fund did was skim 2 and ½ million off of the top of the total, I think it was 12½ million, we had — I'm not sure of that number — from the three foundations. Skim that off the top, give it to the school people, give them minimal oversight because they weren't going to respond to oversight anyway, give them that bone and let them chew on it. And then they'd leave us alone and let us work through the community action agencies to get done what needed to be done that the school people weren't doing. So, they were on different tracks. I never saw anything they were doing. I never had a conversation with anybody from the education empire about what they were doing. I'm not sure George Esser knew what they were doing. We got a report from them directly to our board. Once in a while, somebody would come over from the school hierarchy and make a report: "Here's what we're doing with the money." I guess some of it was Ford money so the Ford people had to be satisfied that the money wasn't being squandered. I really think that Terry thought that there was not any future in a true partnership with the school people.
The schools, by the way, in 1963, when the Fund was founded [were] still very much in the throes of how we going to keep all these black people out of here, out of these white schools. They were involved with busing. Durham was in an awful uproar over school integration situation and that's why we (my family) moved to Chapel Hill. The Fund was always headquartered in Durham and my original intention was to live in Durham. But, we had two children, one of [them] in the first grade and one of them in the third or fourth grade. Chapel Hill was already well on its way to solving these problems; well, at least administratively getting things together. Very shortly after we moved here they abolished the black high school, built a new high school, [and] left both

Page 22
buildings. Then the white school was downtown where University Square is now. The black high school was out on Merritt Mill Road. They abandoned both of those buildings, built a new high school. Everybody in Chapel Hill who's high school age goes to those schools. And, before that, they had integrated all of the schools on the elementary level, starting with the first, second, third grades and then moving up, moving up. There wasn't any such thing as a middle school. So, Chapel Hill still had a long way to go in terms of the integration of accommodations, like restaurants, bus stations, movie houses, and so forth, but as far as school is concerned, they were probably in as good a shape as any school system in the country. So, we decided to move to Chapel Hill and just not get involved in a school system that was involved in terrible turmoil if not a dangerous place to be. That's why really we lived in Chapel Hill instead of Durham. I'm glad we did. I like Chapel Hill better than Durham, especially these days. Durham is a tough place to live these days.
But, we were just on a different track from them. The longer the five-year period got, the more removed we were. I would guess that the two and one half million, by the time they got finished sprinkling around this huge school system in North Carolina, it probably didn't last but a year or two. So, I don't know what they did with it. I'm sure somebody's done a paper on it. I'm sure George Esser could give a researcher a whole lot better notion of what did happen to money and what, if anything, it accomplished than I can, but I really can't throw much light on it.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
That's interesting. I was looking through the press clippings of the fund and I noticed that Sanford often talked about education and that seemed to be a real emphasis of his—.

Page 23
BILLY E. BARNES:
It was.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
It makes me think, from what you're saying, that in many ways it was a political move too of his.
BILLY E. BARNES:
No, he was wonderful education governor. He was very, very instrumental in creation of the community college system. He was big on higher education and he was real big on public school education. His mother was a teacher. He did everything he could as governor. You know, a governor without a veto is limited in what he can do in terms of turning the ship around or even making the ship change course because the legislature controls the money and the school system does not report to the governor. The school system has its own elected head. So, it's basically independent. The nearest thing the government has to exert any control at all over the school system is that he does have a hand at appointing some members to the State School Board and all of the members of the Council of State. All of the elected members sit on the State School Board, like the secretary of labor and secretary of agriculture and so forth. But, Terry did everything he could to make the integration of the schools smoother and to make sure that they were adequately funded or better funded than they had been. But, I got the idea that he didn't think there was any chance that you could bring enough innovation into the minds of the people who were running the educational establishment in the state to keep them in a posture that they would cooperate with the North Carolina Fund [and] later the Office of Economic Opportunity to bring some change. I guess most of that money was spent on very early childhood education. And, I don't know, it's possible that they might have had some money in that little program I was telling you about in Boone. I just don't know. We were just so removed from it. I was always so removed by it. I didn't know

Page 24
and I didn't concern myself much with what they were doing because it didn't really have anything directly to do with us.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah. Switching the subject just a little bit to your photographs. It's astounding to me the sheer number that you [shot], over 40,000 during that time period. I'm wondering how you did that. I was trying to compute how many [that is] per day.
BILLY E. BARNES:
[Laughter]
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
That's incredible.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Most of them were shot in the early days of the fund before I became blessed with or burdened with, depending on how you want to look at it, a big staff. At one time I had 15 people working for me. When you have 15 people working for you, you don't get much time to go out and roam around shooting pictures. And, shooting documentary photographs requires a lot of time and patience. It's not like going to a news event and shooting pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger shaking hands, and it all takes place in five minutes. And, then you get on the phone and send digital pictures back to Newsday or USA Today. It takes a lot of patience, because, for one thing, you're intruding on other people's lives, and you have to do it gently. You have to first find a trusted third party who can introduce you to these people and assure them that you don't have any negative intent. Then, you have to take time to kind of dissolve into the wallpaper, while the people be themselves.
And, probably 75 percent of those photographs were shot in first two years I was there. I traveled a lot. I tried to get out into these communities as they cranked up their programs, especially when the federal money came. There were lots of things going on. I especially shot a lot of pictures of the North Carolina Volunteers in at least six or eight

Page 25
different locations. George had me go down and live with one group of Volunteers, the ones that somebody shot into their sleeping quarters one Sunday morning down in New Bern, or in Craven County. So I shot a lot of pictures of them when they built the house out there in a little fisherman's community outside of Beaufort.
I've always loved to do photography and suddenly I had, just as I had when I was with McGraw-Hill, somebody else buying the film—I had my own equipment -and paying for the processing. So I shot a lot of pictures. And I was in a lot of situations that were just irresistible to shoot. So, I did a lot of traveling. Some of this material was for the slide shows that I did and the films that were done with still pictures.
In later years, I spent a fair amount of time giving technical assistance to the communities with whom we had a special relationship. They had an inflated idea of my ability and my creativity, I think. I don't know why. I remember I walked into the Charlotte Area Fund office one day and [met] this young woman who was supposed to be doing their public relations work in the big city. When she met me — she was a small, very nice looking black woman about 25 — she said, "Gee, I expected you to be at least eight feet tall." [Laughter] . That was her way of saying, by reputation, you're supposed to be a big deal. And I would try to give them some advice on how to deal with the press and the television stations and what not to do and so forth.
In fact, I and my staff put on a seminar one time, about '66 I would say, in Greensboro for the people—I doubt any of them was really full time —on staffs of all community action agencies in North Carolina, not just the Fund programs but all of them. At that time, there must have been at least thirty of them. We put on a two-day seminar with presentations by me and different members of my staff. We handed out a lot of

Page 26
stuff. I ran across today a manual which later was adapted by OEO into a manual for every community action agency in the country.1 I wrote this manual which we handed out to all the community action people who attended. I believe we had representation from every community action agency. We paid all expenses, meals and hotel rooms, and supplied all the instruction. I think I had a couple of people down from Washington, from OEO, who helped with it, who were speakers at that seminar.
But anyway, when I would go to these [community action agencies] to give them some technical assistance, I would ask them to take me out and let me meet some of the people they were working with and some of their field people. And then, I would ask their field people to take me to some of their friends in the community, some of the people they were working with. This gave me the opportunity to shoot some pictures, which I was then able to have converted into slides and share with the Charlotte Area Fund, so they could do [slide shows]. If they wanted a whole slide show, I would do, with some help from my staff with the logistics of it, a whole slide show for them, explaining their programs. They had different emphases: Some of them were big on health. Some of them had no health asset at all. Some were very education oriented. Some of them dealt with teens a lot through Neighborhood Youth Corps and stuff like that. So, I would develop a slide show with a lot of input from them, write a script, and put some slides together, black and white, so that they could go to Lions Club, the Rotary Club, and present a little program. And also, I would give them some stills to use for their newspaper publicity. "Here's what we're doing." To convince the folks not only that they deserved political support but to convince the folks that, you know, this wasn't some kind of subversive organization coming in to stir up trouble. You know, what

Page 27
we're doing: We got little babies coming in to clinics to get their exams. There was a lot of things like tutoring programs going on, tutoring people in the third through fifth grades with local volunteers.
So, yeah, I shot a whole lot of photographs during that period. And I had a really good secretary who helped me keep up with them. I didn't bring it up but I ran across her log this morning, where she logged every single roll of film, the date, and where it was shot. When I gave those 1960s photographs to the North Carolina Collection, I was able to give them a copy of that notebook so that they can at least know where and when any given roll of film was shot because there's numbers on the negative sleeves that match the numbers in the log book. I'm awfully glad I did that because I would never have been able to do it by myself. I wouldn't have had time to do it.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
I saw that your work was also in a traveling photography exhibit put on by the OEO with—.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yeah, it was.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
With Gordon Parks and other famous social documentary photographers of the time.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Listen, somebody sent me a program that I guess it was the Smithsonian put out—I mean it was a little brochure that accompanied that exhibit. What was the name of [her]? She's the most famous female photographer who ever lived and she was friend of Mahatma Gandhi's.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Dorothea Lange?
BILLY E. BARNES:
Was that Dorothea Lange?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
I don't know if she was one of Gandhi's-.

Page 28
BILLY E. BARNES:
No, this woman's name started with an "A." She started off working for Life magazine. I think she shot the first cover that Life magazine ever ran. I'll think of her name in a minute. But, her name started with an A. It listed the photographers and it had her name and it had Billy Barnes and I thought I would die. I can't think of her name, but anyway. It was cool being listed right under this woman.2
Yeah, and then when they had the North Carolina Fund kind of a reunion in Durham, some folks raised some money and did that exhibit — that is now in the archives in the North Carolina Collection in its frames that hung in the Southern Studies gallery over there at Duke, on the Duke campus. That was a nice thing to see. These people in these photographs, I kind of think of them as old friends. Some of those photographs I hadn't seen for twenty years, and, suddenly, there's this beautiful exhibit. They did a wonderful job. They put them in really nice frames and they matted them. It looked wonderful. It really did. There are all my old friends on the wall. It was very touching to me.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
I know you must have loads of stories about these photographs and about the situations in which you shot them. Could you tell me some, you know, particularly striking images you remember and the stories behind them.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Do you want to cut the tape recorder off and let me get them and show them to you?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Sure. Sure. [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
BILLY E. BARNES:
One of the reasons that I could do this body of photography work was because, George Esser, the executive director of the fund, when he first interviewed me, I

Page 29
told him I was really at heart a photographer, that I would be very interested in doing some documentary work along with my other chores—.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Just a moment. I want to check this a second. [Recorder is turned off and then back on.] Okay.
BILLY E. BARNES:
And that, one of the terms of my coming to work with him was when the fund went out of business, I wanted to own the copyright of these photographs. And he agreed to that, graciously agreed to that. He never asked me, "Why have you been out shooting pictures in Culouhwee when you could have been here at your desk slaving away at putting out news releases?" He never once questioned any money I spent. In fact, my department was allocated so much money that I never spent the whole budget in any one of the five years. Now, there's a disadvantage to that. If you're not accomplishing anything, you can always say, "I didn't have enough money. If I had a little help with this, I could have done wondrous things." It's kind of like owning a Nikon, the best camera money can buy. If you have a cheap camera, you can always tell yourself, "If I had a better camera, I could do a better job." But, George always supported me in everything I did, and he's still a very warm friend of mine.
This photograph is—. George Wallace came and had a big rally on the courthouse steps in Durham. This was just a matter of weeks before he was shot. [Photograph is a close up of man in Wallace regalia beaming proudly at rally.]
[Here Barnes and Gritter discuss the possible date of the photograph.]
This photograph of five little guys sitting on a porch, an unfinished front porch, is one of the very first series I ever took. It's down in either Hamlet or Rockingham, which, as you probably know, are two adjacent towns. There was a school

Page 30
principal, a wonderful school principal, who wanted me to meet some of his people. We spent a couple of hours in this neighborhood and I'll show you some other pictures eventually from that neighborhood.
In Winston-Salem, one time I was over there doing some work that had to do with helping the community action agency and somebody tipped me off that there was going to be on Saturday a demonstration at a grocery store where this white guy who owned a grocery store in the black section had been treating his customers with disrespect and selling them—. They said he was buying secondhand meat from other stores, from the big grocery stores, and reselling it half-spoiled meat. And, I went to the demonstration, and this is one of the photographs I shot there.
This photograph is Terry Sanford and Lyndon Johnson and Senator Sam Ervin and Lynda Bird and this is F-D-R, Jr. They're in the Wilson Courthouse, Johnson came and visited a poor family. He and Lynda Bird both made speeches about why we needed a War on Poverty.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
This was before the act was passed?
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yes. He was—.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
This was in '64?
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yeah, I know it was in 1964 and I'll tell you why. George [Esser] and I were both distressed and a little bit amused at how uptight the Secret Servicemen were and the reason they were was because they had just lost a guy a year before in fall. So, I know it was in the Spring of '64. Lyndon had only been president for five months.
This is a North Carolina Volunteer in the middle teaching math to a bunch of mountain kids way up in the mountains on the front porch of the house where they lived

Page 31
and he's using his fingers to, you know, teach them how to count. He's letting her count fingers and see how many he's got.
This is one of the North Carolina Volunteers working with a local person. They've just laid out the periphery of that house. These are batter boards for the foundation. This is the kind of little houses they were living in that community. This is another volunteer and this is a teenager who worked with them. This is her mama.
This is the original board of the North Carolina Fund. Dallas Herring, the guy I was telling you about, is not in the picture. This is John Wheeler, a wonderful Durham banker, who was later president of the Fund board. This is Terry [Sanford], of course. This is Anne Forsyth, who was a third-generation Reynolds family person. That's John Ehle. There's George Esser. This gentleman was president of Livingstone College in Salisbury at the time. This fellow, Hollis Edens, was president of Duke University at the time. Jim Gray was an heir to the tobacco fortune in Winston-Salem and was publisher of the Winston-Salem Journal.
This is a trainee in one of the programs that one of the North Carolina Fund spin off organizations, M-D-C, ran for training young people to do jobs.3 That's a lace factory. See the lace there. They make lace for lady's underwear and linen gowns and stuff like that.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Sure.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Remarkable. It is the most interesting textile process I have ever seen.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Where is that?
BILLY E. BARNES:
What's the good size town that's on I-85 just before you get to the Virginia border? It's got a town with a similar name up in the mountains. I can't think of the

Page 32
name of it. It is North of Durham on Highway 85. I can't think of the name of it right now.
This is another one of those pictures I shot that very first afternoon in Rockingham. Now, I want to leave that out because we'll come back to that one in a minute.
Oh, here's—. Actually, they're not all barefooted; that was my imagination. At least two of them are barefooted. That's the summer Head Start program in '64.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Right.
BILLY E. BARNES:
This is a man who was relocated in what we called the Mobility program. Are you familiar with it?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Hm. Hm.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Okay. He's in a place in Concord, a furniture manufacturing company in Concord, and he's learning how to—. He probably already had woodworking skills. They're just teaching him their way of doing things.
This is a protest against what they saw as unfair management practices in a public housing development in Durham that was kind of organized and inspired by our neighborhood development folks and by the community action agency in Durham, Operation Breakthrough.
This is a Charlotte photograph. It's one of my very early [photographs]. [It's a] 1964 photographs. Charlotte didn't have much of skyline then. It's changed a lot since then.
This, I believe, is the same demonstration as that one.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Against the public housing?

Page 33
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yes.
The Wautauga Avery Mitchell Yancey program was big on crafts and craft sales. They had a big crafts store in Boone. They took crafts from craftspeople all over the territory and helped the people market them. This man made banjos.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Had they all been craftspeople before or were some of them because of mechanization processes out of jobs and they became craftspeople?
BILLY E. BARNES:
No, I think most of them had always been craftspeople. They just hadn't ever been able to figure out how to make a buck out of it, you know, make much money out of it. There's a very elderly man who made split cane chairs from scratch. There he's making a split for the seats. The old way.
This is another MDC shot. They got that lady a training position in the Vicks cold medicine plant in Greensboro.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Okay.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Here's some more crafts that the folks and women made.
This is another shot of the Volunteers.
The 1964 North Carolina Volunteers, when they first came reported for duty, they trained for two weeks at Duke University [giving them an] orientation to problems of poverty [and] how to get along. They probably didn't dress like that once they got in the field. That was back when girls wore dresses.
This is a laborer in Winston-Salem who was blinded on the job and never able to get any money from his employers so he was still unemployed at the time. He had two little boys. [WEB].
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Was he the sole caregiver of those children?

Page 34
BILLY E. BARNES:
No, there was a wife in the picture. I think she worked but he couldn't because he was blinded.
This was a summer recreation program for children in '64 in the mountains, as you can see, in Boone.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
This is a Volunteer?
BILLY E. BARNES:
That's a Volunteer. The Macon County—.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
BILLY E. BARNES:
The Macon County project developed a remarkable thing for farmers. Apparently they got a federal grant to do it. They set up a plant where they grated and washed the tomatoes and dried them and packed them and sent them all over the country. It was a co-op. They encouraged the farmers to grow tomatoes. Apparently, tomatoes grown in a sunny but cool climate are juicier and tastier tomatoes than tomatoes grown down on the flatland where it stays hot all the time. I don't know whether it survived but it was a good thing while it was going.
This is another shot of the Winston-Salem demonstration at that grocery store.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
[Reading caption.] "Unsanitary meats." [unknown] And so forth.
BILLY E. BARNES:
This is the first-ever group of VISTA volunteers that ever went into the field. We trained them at Camp New Hope, a Presbyterian camp right down the road. Because we had had experience with the North Carolina Volunteers—. In fact, OEO paid for the North Carolina Volunteers as a pilot program because they wanted to get some experience before they recruited their first VISTA volunteers. So, this was the first group of VISTA volunteers ever to go into the field.

Page 35
This is a man who was trained by a training program in our Craven County project. He was training in carpentry work.
This is a Lumbee who was a tenant farmer. They had 16 children.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
What? What? You said he's a who?
BILLY E. BARNES:
Tenant farmer. He's a Lumbee Indian.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Oh, a Lumbee Indian. Okay.
BILLY E. BARNES:
If you haven't met many Lumbees and you want to know what a typical Lumbee looks likes at that age, that's what he looks like. That is the Lumbee look. It's not quite Indian, and it's not quite Negro, and it's not quite Caucasian. It's kind of a very interesting mixture. But, those are the standard features of a Lumbee male.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
How old is he in this picture?
BILLY E. BARNES:
I would guess that he is 45.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Were there a lot of Lumbees that you served through the North Carolina Fund?
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yes. We had a project that served Richmond, Robinson, and Scotland Counties. Robinson County is the Lumbee capital of the world. A lot of them also live in Scotland and Richmond counties. So, this was a very interesting situation. I interviewed him and his wife. He had to go somewhere after I shot the pictures and I mostly interviewed his wife. She said something very strange to me. She kept saying, "I don't know why the Lord suffered me to have all these children." You won't believe this but I got the strong impression she didn't know what makes babies.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Ah.

Page 36
BILLY E. BARNES:
I got to thinking about it afterward, you know, you wouldn't have any reason to believe that the sex act and nine months later the baby comes along, that there's any connection if nobody ever told you.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Hm-Hm. Right.
BILLY E. BARNES:
But I, still, I wonder whether there's anyone in the twentieth [century]—. But obviously to her, it seemed like not something that was happening because of something she and her husband were doing but that the Lord had just foisted these 16 children on her and she really didn't know why. She obviously didn't know anything about birth control. These were extremely decent people, hard-working people, but I said to him while I was shooting these pictures, "What's their names?" And he looked at them and said, "I got so many I just can't keep up with them."
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Hm. Wow.
BILLY E. BARNES:
I don't know what that means. But that phrase will stick in my head for a long time.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Actually, my great grandmother—. I went to a family reunion, like, a year ago, and they said the same thing about her; they weren't sure if she knew why she had so many children.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Your grandmother?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
My great grandmother.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Really?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Wow. It seems impossible to us, but—.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Right.

Page 37
BILLY E. BARNES:
These two beautiful children are Hallowa Indians. They live up in the Northeast part of the state around Halifax County. That's where the Hali in "Hallowa" come from.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah, I was thinking, I've been to Cherokee, North Carolina, I just made that connection [that there are] Indian populations [in that area].
BILLY E. BARNES:
Hm. Hm. This child here looks very Indian. They all have darkish hair and big round dark eyes.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
What percentage of people served in North Carolina Fund would you say were Native Americans?
BILLY E. BARNES:
About five percent. Maybe. Now, those five percent had a lot of influence. The head of our Manpower program was a Lumbee. He had been an elementary school principal. The guy who was the number-two person in the Mobility program and later the number-one person was a Lumbee and he went to work for the Labor Department, and, unless he's retired, still has a fairly responsible job at the U.S. Labor Department. And there's a woman who now is a professor at State who is a Lumbee. I think she worked in the Manpower program. So, we had a few, but not many.
This is one of the most acclaimed pictures I've ever shot.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah, I've seen this one.
BILLY E. BARNES:
That's Howard Fuller, the legendary community organizer, and this is the day after Martin Luther King was killed. Martin Luther King was killed in the morning, you will recall. [King and his cohort] had just dressed and were out on the porch waiting for the crowd to get together so they could have breakfast and go to the march. He was shot there on the porch of the motel. And, the word got out all over the world. In

Page 38
Durham, they had a meeting at one of the churches that night, and they were going to go out and burn the town down. That was happening in many other cities. And Howard talked them out of it. He said, "The way to show this is for every one of you to come to a march tomorrow. We'll march through Durham and we'll have some speakers. We'll meet down there at Five Points and we'll march through Durham with dignity instead of giving them more reason to hate and fear us." And, he said, "If you will agree to do that, I will recruit the North Carolina Central University football team to keep order at the march." Well, the rally was held down here at Five Points and then they marched up Main Street. [Barnes point to figure in the picture.] This is one of the football guys, and he's got on an armband which signifies he's a march marshal. The police were out in droves. They marched very peacefully along the sidewalk. I asked Howard lately, "What were you looking at with that pained expression?" He said, "I saw here on top of the Belks Building three guys with rifles and I was trying to figure out whether they were policemen or something worse. And, that's what I was looking at the time."
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Hmm.
BILLY E. BARNES:
I walked in the front door of a house where we had gone to visit a lady in Salisbury—. When we walked in the front door, that's what I saw. It was very intrusive thing of me to do, to shoot that picture, but I had to. I couldn't have not. The lady had just awakened. This little baby had come in and awakened Mom and they were sitting there like that. And that's all I know to say about that photograph. It's one of my very favorites.
Here's a big version of the Howard Fuller picture.

Page 39
Lumbee women are some of most gorgeous creatures in the world. They have this creamy, dark complexion, and big brown or black eyes and black hair. Lumbee women are the most gentle—. Some of Lumbee men are not what you call gentle. A few of them like to fight and drink. Men do. And get involved in crimes and so forth. But Lumbee women are the best housekeepers I have ever seen. I don't care how poor they are. They sweep the yard with a broom. If they got no grass, they sweep the yard with a broom. Their houses are neat and clean. This lovely young thing is a little Lumbee girl and a washboard that had to be sitting there on the porch. Back then, I thought it was a sin to pose people in a picture. I never posed them. I never told them anything to do. I never said "Sit here" or "Stand here" or "Hold yourself here." I just shot what was there, which is the pure documentary process.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Wow. Because, yeah, like that one looks like that could very well have been posed.
BILLY E. BARNES:
No, she was very shy.
This is a Lumbee teenager in a line of row houses.
This is a lonely little old man in Durham.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
It's interesting to me how you shot that one with having the big—.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yeah.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Like that. And, the smaller—.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yeah. I'm very attracted to those shots. I don't shoot them often because I don't see them often. But, once in a while.
This is another shot of the blind guy with two little kids, which in some ways is a-

Page 40
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Where was this man?
BILLY E. BARNES:
In Winston-Salem.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Okay.
BILLY E. BARNES:
He lived in a tiny little house right on the edge of the main central business district.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Did his wife work?
BILLY E. BARNES:
I think she did, yes.
Now, this is Miss Mary and this is my favorite picture that has a story behind it. One thing I like about that photograph is the more you look at it, the more detail you see and the more you wonder what's going on. For example, what's in the jar? Is it corn whiskey or kerosene for starting fire or what? Why does Miss Mary have on one striped sock and one not striped sock? Here's the coffee pot down here. I don't know if that's a table or a chair. I don't know what's going on there. She's got a little dish of some kind under the bed. Now, also, you will notice, she's got something under there other than her breasts. She's got a little something under there. And, after we left, I asked the woman who was her friend who was a community worker for the Winston-Salem community action agency [about her and her bump]. Her name was Miss Mary. That was the only name I ever got. She was a very talkative lady and I asked about the bump. When she stood up, it was a lot more prominent than it is there. That lady told me the most interesting story. She said that Miss Mary came home from downtown one day and the urban renewal people had knocked her house down with a bulldozer. They had gone to the wrong house and knocked the whole thing down.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Oh, God.

Page 41
BILLY E. BARNES:
She said, "Miss Mary called me and I went out there." And she said, "What Miss Mary's got in that pouch is a receipt for everything she ever bought in her life." She said, "We took those receipts to the urban renewal office, and we negotiated something new for everything she had ever bought with those receipts." [Laughter] Apparently she didn't own the house but her possessions were pretty well destroyed. She said, "Miss Mary took those people to the cleaners and was happy as a bug." So, there's Miss Mary in her new digs and she's just as satisfied as she can be.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Well, I see that because that expression on her face so stands out.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Uh-huh.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
It's like: "What's she thinking? What's she happy about?" Where was this in?
BILLY E. BARNES:
Winston-Salem.
This is a family that's in that community was the first one I ever did any documentary work in. You remember lady on the porch with three kids around her?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Well, these are the children. I talked to her for a while. And then, we started for the car. As I came around the corner of the house, the same three children who were in that other picture were watching me out of that window, and that's what I saw. That's one of the half dozen favorite photographs from that whole five-year period of mine that I like the best.
The grain of the wood and the holes in the screen. The whole thing just kind of comes together.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah.

Page 42
BILLY E. BARNES:
I saw this man doing that in Winston-Salem one day. I was just shooting some pictures of the skyline for a slide show, I think. And, he was looking out across town. You know, when they built these expressways, the first expressways through town, certainly in Durham and Winston-Salem, basically what it did was formed a barrier between the black community and downtown. The same thing happened in Durham. I just thought it was breathtakingly symbolic: Him at that fence looking out at the downtown at the big tobacco factories and all of that and at the cars whizzing by. He came away from the fence and I did ask him if he would be kind enough to go back and do that again. [Laughter] . And, he kindly obliged and that's where that came from.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah, and with the bank, so symbolic.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yeah. All of those tobacco factory are closed now. Every single one of them. The cigarette business is not the place to be these days.
Now, here is actually my favorite shot of that Lumbee man. He's not looking at the camera. I'm sure they were shot in the same 30-second period.
There's one more photograph I'd like to show [you]. Oh well, this one's kind of interesting. Somebody organized a group of teenagers. There was a really bad slum landlord over there.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Where was this?
BILLY E. BARNES:
In Durham. And, his name was Greenberg.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
[reading caption of photograph] "High rent for your fire traps, Greenberg."
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yeah. I've got another version of that situation, where there's a girl carrying a sign that says, "We live with rats and roaches, Greenberg. Do you?" [Laughter] .
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah.

Page 43
BILLY E. BARNES:
I came across those two children while driving down the road in the mountains one day. I don't know what they were so forlorn about. Maybe they were malnourished. I don't know.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
That's a really poignant—.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yeah.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Picture.
BILLY E. BARNES:
It is. It is. A big composition that's just about-. There's a real serendipity. I started to take credit for it, but it just happened, you know. All I did was frame the camera and push the button.
That's a basic adult education class getting ready for work skill training that MDC had in Greensboro.
This is some community people working with the Volunteers to build that house down there in Merrimon (Carteret County).
This is a very early picture in New Bern of a little fellow who lived down on the edge of town, a neighborhood worker took me to visit.
This is just a door front I ran into. It seems to me like it was Salisbury (MLK pho).
This is a volunteer. She's still got her dress on. No, she's [wearing a] skirt and blouse. She is teaching the kids in this family how to make tasty dishes out of government surplus commodities, which is what's in these shiny cans here. You know about government surplus commodities?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
[Shakes her head.]

Page 44
BILLY E. BARNES:
They're stuff that the government buys from farmers when the market is bad for peanuts. They'll buy the peanuts and have peanut butter made out of them and can it and give to poor folks. It's basically the same as Food Stamps: You qualify for them and then you can go once a week and get a can of peanut butter and a can of Spam and a can of this and a can of that and some flower and sugar.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Sure.
BILLY E. BARNES:
This is a little old lady we visited. I think we just stopped. I don't think we ever went in her house. I think we just stopped and she was standing there. My guide knew her. We just chatted with her for a while. And I asked her whether I could take some pictures and she said yes.
This is Howard Fuller helping with a neighborhood clean up in Durham late one Saturday morning. They got the folks together who had been coming to meetings and had a neighborhood clean up. This fellow was a fellow we trained as a Community Action Technician. What a pretentious name; I guess we were trying to make it palatable to the power structures to call them Community Action Technicians. They just went out and worked with poor people, tried to organize some groups and so forth. I can't remember this fellow's name but he later became a vice president of the Reynolds Tobacco Company and was for a long time the chairman of the Board of Governors of the university system and may still be. I don't why I can't think of his name right now. He went on to become big potatoes.4
These are the volunteers after they have finished their training and they're getting on the bus to go do their thing.

Page 45
These Neighborhood Youth Corps boys are installing the first water system that this little mountain community ever had. I ran across the other day that the women said they had to walk a quarter mile with buckets to get water from a spring. The kids were paid with Neighborhood Youth Corps funds from O-E-O. The community action agency there in Boone somewhere got the money for the piping and it may be the neighbors chipped in. I don't know.
This was a nice little program that the Salisbury-Rowan project had teaching ladies to sew so that they could make their family's own clothes and save some money. They're on the front porch of that lady's house.
This is a picture of row housing in either Rockingham or Hamlet. I think it's Rockingham.
This child here is the sister of that child and this kid here with his belt buckle hanging down is that kid. That's just one of the pictures I shot while we were there. I've always thought the cat gave that picture some class.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah, I noticed that right away.
BILLY E. BARNES:
And, apparently she's got new shoes.
This is another picture of that mountain lady at the barbed wire fence. I think I like the other one better, she's got her head tilted and—.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah, she looks like she's in pain [in that picture].
BILLY E. BARNES:
Yeah. And, that's about the crop. Well, there's some more in it but I think you've seen them all. I don't think you saw this. This is Arnold Schwarzenegger's father-in-law.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Oh, [Sargent] Shriver.

Page 46
BILLY E. BARNES:
These are some representatives of boards of directors of community action agencies. He came down here for a hearing one time — just, you know, "How are things going?" — with his staff. I think this is one of his staff members. This is who was the director of the time of the community action project in Craven County. She must be a community representative. I don't remember where that was. I think it was — it may be in Washington. I guess we took them to Washington. I don't remember. I don't know why I don't remember; it's only been 35 years.
This is a role playing, "getting along with the boss and getting along with your fellow employees," thing in Asheville that MDC did in the latter years of the fund. There was some overlap between the MDC era and the life of fund.
These are some skits that the North Carolina Volunteers did while they were in training.
There's one more photograph I wanted to show you. I don't think you saw this one. Oh, and here's another one of my favorites. This wasn't even a North Carolina Fund program but it was a program that was sponsored by Durham Operation Breakthrough. They had a bunch of Duke students in the basement of a black church over in East Durham tutoring kids after school, and this kid was given some stuff to copy to practice his writing. He copied the first sentence and then he copied the instructions "James copy above sentences."
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Ah. This is a beautiful picture. I mean they're all beautiful, but this—
BILLY E. BARNES:
Thank you.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Is really unique.
BILLY E. BARNES:
And, that's one of my very favorites.

Page 47
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah.
BILLY E. BARNES:
I don't know—
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
I've never seen a picture like this.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Whether it's because it's got my name in it or what, but I kind of like the idea of him being out of focus and what's he's doing being in focus.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah, so concentrated on copying.
BILLY E. BARNES:
There's a picture of a Lumbee. [unknown] Oh, I want to show you Neckbones. Have you ever seen this one?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
No.
BILLY E. BARNES:
That fellow's name was Wise Owl; his nickname was Wise Owl. He was an alcoholic and he had been to North Carolina State University for a year and dropped out a long, long time ago. Wise Owl must have been forty at the time. They called him Wise Owl because he was the only one around who had been to college, the only street person who had been to college. I shot several pictures of him in other places. But we were walking along the street and he sat down on a bench in front of that grocery store in the old Hayti section. The store's not there anymore. The juxtaposition of him against that Neckbones [sign]—. Neckbones, as you may or may not know, are a real cheap part of pig that black people eat because it's got a lot of meat on it. You got to work to get the meat off of them. But [at] nineteen cents a pound, they're pretty cheap, even back then.
This is the same guy that I shot vertical shot horizontally with two other people in it.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Right.

Page 48
BILLY E. BARNES:
This is a picture that I don't know why I even shot it. I usually didn't shoot pictures of things that I disapproved of. But, the Winston-Salem project sponsored a Boys Club and this guy was one of my buddies from the staff over there. I did not approve of them teaching kids to beat each other but I shot the picture just the same.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Oh, it's the boxing. I see.
BILLY E. BARNES:
I don't agree with boxing. I think it's a barbarian—. I wouldn't even call it a sport; it's an activity.
I thought I'd found [the] Bugs and Roaches [picture], but—. Did you see this one?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
No.
BILLY E. BARNES:
This is an old gentleman in New Bern sitting in front of a long abandoned seafood market. I love this column there. It's got a lot of class. [unknown]
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
The crack too, how that goes like that.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Uh-huh.
This is same guy who I was telling you about who went onto the big time.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Oh, to [be the] tobacco VIP.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Uh-huh. Well, he was on Jimmy Hunt's gubernatorial staff for a long time. I don't know what he did. A really neat guy. He was a neighborhood worker in Durham. That picture was shot out there in the vicinity where Fanny Hedgepeth lived. I'm going to send him one of those pictures sometime.
This is a little girl up in the mountains. There's another sweet picture on the back of that one that you can look at. She was sitting on a pier down on the river down there where the Volunteers built that house. [The girl is] just thinking, thinking about life.

Page 49
You remember the white kid with the freckles in the homemade wagon, the wheel on the board that he was using for a wagon?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Hm-Hm.
BILLY E. BARNES:
His sister. I caught her in a pose exactly like that Lumbee girl with the washboard, and both of them have their feet crossed kind of like that, in a kind of a shy way, just exactly alike, and they're both on the front porch. And, I always thought they were an interesting juxtaposition.
That's the picture [of] the mother of the three children who were behind the screen.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
She looks old.
BILLY E. BARNES:
We were being taken around by a man or I was; it was just me. That must be her pocketbook she sat out there. She went in and put on her hat. So, that's all I got.
There's been some talk from time to time of making a book out of these photographs, and—.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Yeah.
BILLY E. BARNES:
I've been thinking about trying to sell the University Press on the idea of doing it.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Oh, that'd be wonderful.
BILLY E. BARNES:
[unknown]. Doing a book is so much trouble and basically an ego trip. There's no money in it. I've never put any effort in this direction, but I was thinking the other day next year will be the 40th anniversary of the War on Poverty.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Oh, yeah.

Page 50
BILLY E. BARNES:
I don't know whether they can produce a book in a year, but it would be a good reason for doing a book.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Right.
BILLY E. BARNES:
[unknown].
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
And, a lot of your photographs are in the Library of Congress, I saw?
BILLY E. BARNES:
Not a lot of them, about 14 of them. Well, about 1965, after I had that photograph in that traveling exhibit, I was contacted by the curator of photography. A German man [whose] name I don't remember. He asked me to pick what I thought [were] my most compelling twelve to fifteen photographs and send them to him for a small collection. And, I did, so that's what's there. And, to my amazement, somehow I ran across the Library of Congress's web site. And I cranked in my name and they had photographs on the web site.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Oh wow.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Much to my amazement. I have this whole Internet thing. There's so much incredible stuff available on there that I can't get used to it.
[Barnes describes another photograph.] There's George [Esser] and Terry [Sanford]. George Esser [is] on the right and Terry's sitting at his desk. That was one of the announcements that was made in early '64. Let's see. That was when they announced how many proposals they had gotten from communities in North Carolina, which was an astounding number. I think more than half the counties were represented for the first round of proposals, which this being North Carolina and this being something that had never been tried before, was pretty remarkable.
[Barnes and Gritter discuss a few more photographs.]

Page 51
Before you go, do you have other questions for me today?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
I don't today. I mean I do have some other ones but I think we can wait with those.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Okay, I want to show you what I found that I thought might be of interest to you and it won't hurt my feelings if you say, "That's nice, but I don't need that right now."
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Okay. I really appreciate you showing me these photographs. This is—.
BILLY E. BARNES:
I'm delighted to do it.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Wonderful.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Like I say, they're old friends and I enjoy revisiting them to tell you the truth.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
I went to the exhibit at North Carolina State on the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs.
BILLY E. BARNES:
I didn't see that.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
It's still going on.
BILLY E. BARNES:
I want to see it so badly.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
It's wonderful.
BILLY E. BARNES:
They got an exhibit at the Ackland [Art Museum] on photography. I found out the other day that the curator of exhibits lives around corner from me and my wife knows her. I didn't know until I saw an article in the paper the other day that she had that job. I'm going to talk with her to see whether the Ackland wants some of these prints.

Page 52
[Barnes describes North Carolina Fund materials he gathered.] Okay, you know this is the handbook.5 This is most of the quarterly newsletters we put out under the [unknown] of the North Carolina Fund.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
The Blueprint [for Opportunity is the name of the magazine].
BILLY E. BARNES:
My staff did these. Almost all the photographs are mine. There's that same scene, a different angle, when they were doing the clean up.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
In Durham.
BILLY E. BARNES:
There's the fellow who later became a big wheel. This is a Bruce Roberts photograph. That was such a wonderful photograph; I couldn't resist it. [Barnes points to a photograph of a farmer and a plow found in the Blueprint.] Anyway, there's that. There's this bundle of news releases.
Have you run across talk of my famous failed attempt at—. Are you still recording?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
I am. Do you want me to stop?
BILLY E. BARNES:
No, no.
My famous failed attempt at getting a radio station for poor people in the mountains?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
You know, I heard you briefly talk about that on the other interview that was done in 1995 of you.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Okay. This is a compendium of documents having to do with that. The thing drew a whole lot more attention than I thought it deserved.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Wow.

Page 53
BILLY E. BARNES:
All these are newspaper clippings where [the radio controversy was reported]. See, there's one that says, "Is it going to be another Pravda? A government-sponsored newspaper, where actually we—." I got a phone call one day from a friend of mine at OEO. And she said, "We're not getting any proposals that are really innovative. We get the same old crap. And especially we're not getting any public information proposals that are innovative. I want an innovative proposal." I said, "Well, I've got one that's been rolling around in the back of my head." She said, "Send it to me." So, I sent her a proposal to—. What I wanted to do was get a license for a radio station, a fairly low-wattage radio station, that would be in the Boone area that would be owned and operated by a group of poor people. And they would have news of things of interest to poor people about what's available. I don't know. It could be Food Stamps. It could be government commodities. It could be an education program that they're having at the community action agency. I wanted a little newspaper too, just a modest thing. That would go with some regularity to — probably more of a newsletter—low-income people who had been identified by the community action agents or anybody else who wanted it and communicate with them. Also, my idea was that the radio station would possibly even sell some advertising and it wouldn't be a public radio station. It would be a commercial station owned by a nonprofit, but also an important component would be training some people for careers in broadcasting. And the same with the newsletter. It could be training some people for possible careers in journalism. Oh, they loved it. They loved it at OEO. And, they gave us a little bit of money to do the preliminary work. Well, I hired a lawyer. Getting a license for getting a radio station is very complicated. I

Page 54
hired a young attorney who understood what we were trying to do. He went to work trying to get a license.
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
BILLY E. BARNES:
The word got out in Washington in the Congress that we had applied, that the North Carolina Fund had a lawyer working trying to get a license for a nonprofit group in Wautauga County to get a permit for radio station to be operated by poor people. And, Jim Gardner, who is, I don't know whether you know anything about Jim Gardner—.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
A little bit.
BILLY E. BARNES:
He's one of the most conservative politicians in North Carolina history. He was a Congressman at the time. He later became lieutenant governor. Thank God, he was never elected governor. Jim started jumping up and down and raising Cain and [so did] the Wautauga Democrat, which is very ill named. Wautauga County has a huge Republican element and has ever since the Civil War; I don't know whether you knew that. The mountain people didn't participate in the Civil War. They didn't own any slaves and so most of them were Lincoln supporters. So, they had a tradition of Republicanism up there. And this was a very, very conservative newspaper and still is. And, they ran the first editorial on it. Well, the other newspapers started to pick it up and before you knew it, there was this dang book full of—. Look at them. Look at them. [Barnes points to scrapbook of more than fifty newspaper articles statewide.]
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Wow.
BILLY E. BARNES:
All about that stupid little idea I had. The whole thing.

Page 55
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Who knew that would explode into controversy.
BILLY E. BARNES:
They launched investigations of the North Carolina Fund. They called it a communist plot. It was just unbelievable, the stuff that was stirred up. And, OEO, of course, backed off. There was so much political hoodoo about it up there that they backed off and wouldn't fund the project. And we couldn't afford to fund the project so it died. But that's just one of the little interesting things.
That and the sending a speaker out, I guess were the two — there wasn't anything daring about sending a speaker out—most innovative things that I tried to do.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Right.
BILLY E. BARNES:
And, both of them were fun. It was a lot of fun thinking about what could have happened with this deal but politically it was not the appropriate time for it I guess. But, if you want to take a peek at that. [Barnes refers to the scrapbook]. Well, here's another. [Barnes reads headlines of newspaper articles on the controversy.] "Raise Ire of the Free Press."6 "Community Action Newspaper: What's It All About?"7 That's from the News and Observer. "Faith In WAMY Falls Flat."8 WAMY is the community action agency in [that was headquartered in] Boone [which represented] four counties. [Barnes quotes from a newspaper article.] "A newspaper for the poor and only the poor would precede the hardware store for the poor, the dry goods exchange for the poor, the gas station for the cars of the poor, the hair dressers, the clothing store—all government facilities which might be erected to serve low-income people at slashed prices." That's from the Wautauga Democrat.9 I guess that was the original thing. Anyway. [Laughter] .

Page 56
This is a memo from George, a copy of the memo he got from somebody else about the great controversy.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Oh, really. What did he think of it?
BILLY E. BARNES:
Well, he was all in favor of it. But it got to the point where it was threatening the very life of the WAMY project. And the WAMY project was a whole lot more important than this, my little crazy idea. So, they dropped it and we dropped it.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
What about Terry Sanford? Did he have any involvement?
BILLY E. BARNES:
I'm not even sure Terry knew about it. Well, I'm sure he knew about it. But, no, [he was not involved in the radio controversy]. Terry was very involved [in other aspects of the Fund]. Terry went out of office in '65. And he couldn't serve but one term.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Oh, they had a term limit?
BILLY E. BARNES:
One term. Back then you had one term as governor. You could lay out a term and run again. But, as a sitting governor, you could not run to serve again. That's been changed. Jimmy Hunt had that changed and then benefited from it and served sixteen years. But, Terry took a hands-off [approach to the work of the fund]. After about six months, he kind of cut it loose. He saw that it was in good hands. We had a good board. Most of them were his nominees. We had selected the counties where we were going to get a start. He had a good executive director and a pretty good staff. And so, he figured he didn't have to micromanage. He didn't come to meetings but maybe once or twice a year, board meetings anymore. I think it was probably just as well. Then, his guy didn't win. His guy was the guy who later became a Congressman, an heir to the Vick's fortune in Greensboro. What's his name? I can't think of his name.

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[Richardson Preyer.] He was supposed to be governor; he was Terry's pick. He ran and he was defeated by a nobody judge from the mountains called Dan K. Moore. He was a Democrat. He was defeated in the primary. Moore was way more conservative than Terry, and Terry didn't like Moore. Terry thought Moore wasn't very smart. I think he underestimated him. I remember one time we were at the governor's mansion one Sunday afternoon. Somebody said, "Governor, what's going to happen to the Fund when Dan Moore gets sworn in?" He said, "I think it will take him at least two years to figure out there is one." So actually, I don't know whose idea it was but somebody had the bright idea of putting Dan Moore's wife on the board of the North Carolina Fund. She didn't serve long, and I don't know whether she wasn't comfortable in that hotbed of social action, but her presence on the board gave us some time when, you know, Dan had a rapport on what we were doing. And I think it co-opted him in a very effective way. And, it was probably Terry's idea to put her on the board.
This is more stuff about the radio and newspaper. [Barnes points out paper on the radio and newspaper controversy.] This is too. This is Rickie Sue Rhodarmer. Is she the person you were talking about?
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
No. I don't know who that is.
BILLY E. BARNES:
Well, some graduate student apparently did [a paper], printed in June of '68, I don't have any memory of this, but she quotes me all the way through it. I guess she must have interviewed me. I should read this. It would probably bring back some memories. But, anyway, Rickie Sue Rodimer, it doesn't say why she wrote this—maybe it will—no it never does say. She interviewed me. Oh well, I don't know why I troubled my secretary with this. I guess I thought a copy of this should be in the library. [Barnes

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points out a compendium of interview transcripts.] This is verbatim of interviews did with poor people. Actually, well there's twelve interviews here with Fanny Hedgepeth.10 And then there's, gee, there must have been, here's interview number 150. Anyway, there's [that]. I don't know whether you have any interest you have. You tell me which of these you have any interest in taking with you, if any.
[Barnes points out a folder of news clippings on the fund.] There's a Greensboro Daily News editorial about us going out of business in 1968.11 Talks about whether we accomplished anything or not. This is a long, long story in '65 [about how the Fund fit] in with OEO.12 All of these [news clippings] are illustrated with my pictures. There's the Lumbee man. Here's the lady in the door with her three children.13 And, here's some stuff we printed about Black Power and so forth.14 Oh, I see what this is. [Barnes refers to a folder of news clippings on the fund.] I had my secretary put together a bunch of editorials, eulogies if you will, when they found out the Fund was going to go out of business. So, you might find this instructive. It looks like there's maybe six or seven of them. There's one of the [Kinston] Free Press 15 and the Charlotte Observer 16 and Winston-Salem Journal.17 So, you tell me what you want to take with you and I will not be offended if you don't want anything from this stuff. It's just what I found.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Okay, this is excellent. I guess I'll shut the tape off.
END OF INTERVIEW
1. [Title of Manual].
2. Margaret Bourke White.
3. Manpower Development Corporation.
4. Ben Ruffin.
5. The public information handbook that OEO adopted for nationwide use.
News and Observer
News and Observer
Wautauga Democrat
Wautauga Democrat
10. The subject of the Fund film "No Handouts for Mrs. Hedgepeth."
Greensboro Daily News
Durham Morning Herald
Charlotte Observer
Blueprint for Opportunity
Kinston Free Press
Charlotte Observer
Winston-Salem Journal