Title: Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, November 26, 1990. Interview L-0145.
Interviewer: Link, William
Interviewee: Friday, William C.
Abstract: William C. Friday served as the president of the University of North Carolina system from 1957 to 1986. This interview is part of a longer, multi-part interview conducted with Friday in 1990. Here, Friday focuses primarily on the Speaker Ban controversy that engulfed the university system from 1963 to 1968. The ban forbade any communist—or anyone who refused during a formal hearing to disavow allegiance to communism—to speak on campus. Friday begins by describing the General Assembly's passage of the Speaker Ban law in 1963. He argues that the law reflected general opposition to the university's emphasis on academic freedom. Later in the interview, Friday revisits what he understood as the General Assembly's "anti-intellectualism" and argues that he believed the Speaker Ban to also reflect residual tension about Frank Porter Graham's senatorial bid and his general support of civil rights measures. Friday devotes considerable attention to a discussion of his own reaction and that of the university to the speaker ban. Focusing primarily on the university's effort to have the law overturned, Friday addresses the role of student leadership in the opposition, the formation of the Britt Commission, his relationship with the press, and tensions between him and the Board of Trustees. Friday also situates the controversy within the broader context of campus unrest during the 1960s and early 1970s. Overall, Friday expresses pride in the university's ability to avoid direct confrontation or violence during the various protests and demonstrations that were held during this time.