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Title: Oral History Interview with Anne Barnes, January 30, 1989. Interview C-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Barnes, Anne, interviewee
Interview conducted by Nasstrom, Kathryn
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 116 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
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2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-05-10, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Title of sound recording: Oral History Interview with Anne Barnes, January 30, 1989. Interview C-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0049)
Author: Kathryn Nasstrom
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Anne Barnes, January 30, 1989. Interview C-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0049)
Author: Anne Barnes
Description: 81.0 Mb
Description: 38 p.
Note: Interview conducted on January 30, 1989, by Kathryn Nasstrom; recorded in North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Kelly Bruce.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series C. Notable North Carolinians, 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 Anne Barnes, January 30, 1989.
Interview C-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Barnes, Anne, interviewee

Interview Participants

    ANNE BARNES, interviewee
    KATHRYN NASSTROM, interviewer


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[This is an interview with Anne C. Barnes for the Notable North Carolinians project, done by Kathryn Nasstrom, January 30, 1989.] Tell me about your family background, where you were born, where you grew up, and a bit about your family.
I was born in Gaston County, North Carolina, and there were three girls in the family. My father worked for Duke Power. We were in a rather remote area because it was near a Duke Power plant. So we had a larger "family" in those who lived there in that village. It was referred to as the Village, and it was right on the Catawba River. We had a lot of advantages growing up out in the country. There were farms around us, but we didn't, of course, farm and felt a little bit deprived because we didn't farm. The elementary school where my sisters and I went to school had time out for cotton picking. We had no cotton to pick so some of our friends on the nearby farms would let us come over and pick. I soon found out that was not so much fun [laughter] as I thought. But it was nice being out in the country and having made long-time friends, people that I am still in contact with, through those early years of my life. So it was a good childhood.
What years did you spend growing up in Gaston County?
I was born in 1932 and was in the area there until I married. I was twenty years old when I married, so approximately twenty years there. When we got high school age, the kids in the village went into Mount Holly, which is the closest town. The

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village we grew up in is Riverbend, and the plant is still there and operating as a part of the Duke Power system, but the village is long gone. It's a little sad to go up there now and see where you used to live isn't there anymore. But we went into Mount Holly for high school and got a little more familiar at that time with the way things were like living in town. It was for about twenty years I was there.
How far is it from Riverbend to Mount Holly?
It's about seven or eight miles.
A school bus came by?
A school bus came by and took us. Of course, now, the elementary school also has to rids the school bus to get there. There was no school within walking distance so we went to a little elementary school out in the country. It was called Lucia School, and it's closed up now. Sometimes when I go back to that area—my parents are buried there in the graveyard of a little church out in the country—when I visit back up there. . . . I still have a little family that "lives" in that area. I go up and see that Lucia School is all boarded up, and it may not even be there right now because I haven't been out that way in several years. But we were about three or four miles from the elementary school and then about seven or eight miles from the high school, where we went to high school.
Is there anything in your family background that sparked an interest in politics?
My father. My father was very, though he was not particularly involved in organized politics, he was very, very

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aware of everything that was going on, and certainly anything of a political nature that impacted the lives of citizens. He talked a lot about politics. I remember Franklin Roosevelt, I believe, was elected the year I was born. For the first twelve years of my life, I thought "Roosevelt" and "president" were synonymous because we only, always in my experience, had a President Roosevelt. I remember, my father didn't have television at that time, but my father never missed the news on the radio. As a matter of fact, families gathered around the radio then, much as they do around television now, to listen to the news. He had a lot to say about things that were going on. So I guess that I had an early interest and early awareness of how the decisions that were made by people in politics were important to our lives. So I grew up with that.
What was your father's name?
George Craig. C-R-A-I-G.
I think mentioning Roosevelt, your experience I think is very typical for people who were young at that age. He was president for so long that there wasn't anybody else to be president. Let's move on then and get some information about your educational background, particularly where you went to college.
I did not go to college. I've had some college courses, but I hold no degrees, no college degrees. When I finished high school, there was a little shortage of money in my family. I had a sister who was in college at the time, and so I opted to go into the business that I was in with my other sister

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already. My oldest sister had established a dance studio because she and my other sister and I had been students of dance since we were pre-school. So she, having finished high school before we did and had established a dancing school, and when I was in high school I assisted her with that on the weekends and after school, and it was a very good, positive experience. I opted to move more heavily into those dance studios with my sister. [Pause] So I did. She and I established several dancing schools, and I enjoyed that very much. I'm not necessarily recommending that young people not go to college. I wish I had had that opportunity. Since I have grown up and come back to Chapel Hill, where my husband finished school, I have had the opportunity to take some courses, and I've enjoyed that very much. I read a lot, and I try to fill out the education that can help me in my pursuits as best I can.
Then when you finished high school and thought about what you were going to do with your future, did you have a sense of what life would hold for you at that point?
I'm not sure I did. I think that at that time perhaps people that age were a little less sophisticated than now, having lived something of a sheltered life in comparison with today. I don't think that I had really, at that time, grasped a great deal of what the potential was or the possibilities. I had been a very good student in high school. I had developed a number of interests. At that particular time I was really quite carried

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away with the field of dance and continued to pursue opportunities to get better and better and better at that. So though I don't think I really felt that would last forever, it was enough for me at the time, and I enjoyed doing that in that time of my life. Later on, after I married and left the area, we moved around quite a bit but finally landed for a little longer length of time in Atlanta. I opened a dance studio there and continued to pursue that as a primary interest in my life. I get kidded a lot now at the General Assembly. I think I'm the only former ballet instructor in the General Assembly, and I get kidded about that. Folks say that my fancy footwork is coming in handy in [laughter] the General Assembly, where there is usually a lot of dancing around on issues.
Yes, I suppose your background opened you to, there is no way you're going to avoid those jokes. You graduated from high school, and then I would gather, about two years later, you married. Is that right?
Something like that, yes. In the interim there, as I was teaching dancing with my sister—we had two studios at the time—I also worked for Duke Power at the plant because I continued to live at home. I worked in the laboratory there, which was a new interest for me. I had a little high school chemistry. That was very interesting work, and I enjoyed doing that. So I was doing two jobs at the same time and enjoying it. Then when I got married, I moved away from the area.
If you would then, briefly recount, between the time you left Gaston County and then you settled here in Chapel Hill,

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the places you've lived and what prompted you to move from one place to the next.
The really wonderful person that I married was in the service. At the time it was during the Korean War, and we moved first to Jacksonville, North Carolina, to that area. He was, my husband Billy, was in the Marine Corps and stationed at Camp Lejeune so we lived there and in that area around Jacksonville and Wilmington. After our first child was born in 1953, in September of 1953, I moved back home for a while to where my parents still lived and had then retired, while my husband was doing some touring with the Marine Corps because I had a brand new baby and needed to be at home at that time. So after he was discharged from the Marine Corps, we moved to Winston Salem, which was his hometown, while he tried to determine what route his life should take, or his career should take. He had no career. It was interrupted with the time in the service. He had been a student at Chapel Hill at the time. He did a variety of things during that time, and I encouraged him to go back to school, and so he did. We moved back to Chapel Hill, actually to Durham, where I worked in a radio station as a copy writer, and he went back to classes in Chapel Hill. A little later, we moved back. We finally got some housing. Housing was such a monstrous problem at that time. There was nowhere that people could live who were students, or anybody else. At that time there was a tremendous crunch in Chapel Hill in regards to housing. So when we finally got a place to live in Chapel Hill we moved here until he could finish. He was a student in the RTVMP Department and

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our second child was born at Memorial Hospital here just before graduation. So I missed his graduation. I had worked in several other things too. I worked in a department store, things to help out so he could finish his education. He was going on, working part-time, so we pieced it out to be able to put him through to finish. When he did finish, we moved to New York. He accepted a position at McGraw Publishing Company, and we moved to New York for a while, and through a training program he began his writing career. He didn't like it in New York. I guess I could handle that a little better than he did because I didn't have to be involved in the rat race so much. We lived in a nice apartment just across the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey, and so I could stay there with the children. It was sort of a small town. It was Fort Lee, New Jersey, which was a small town. Now it's wall-to-wall condominiums.
It sure is.
At that time it was a small town with a corner butcher store and not unlike a small Southern town, and I rather enjoyed being there. I could go into the city when I wanted to but didn't have to go when I didn't want to. My husband didn't have that prerogative so he tired of the rat race very early, and we began to look for ways to get back to the South. His company recognizing, I believe, his talent and versatility, didn't want to lose him, so they had a job to open in Atlanta, Bureau Chief for McGraw Hill, and though he had not had the usual tenure with the company to have a job like that, they took a chance with him and sent him down for that job. So we lived in Atlanta for about

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five or six years. During that time, Billy was contacted by the writer John Ehle, who had been a professor of his when he was at Chapel Hill. At that time, Mr. Ehle was working with Governor Sanford on establishing a number of programs to address issues that needed to be addressed in North Carolina. One of those was the establishment of the North Carolina Fund, which was an anti-poverty agency, pre-the Great Society. It was a forerunner of the Great Society programs and was foundation funded. Mr. Ehle was helping the Governor to set that up, and he called us and told Billy he was out trying to pull back in the North Carolina talent to do some of this work. So he wanted Billy to consider coming back to North Carolina and working for the North Carolina Fund in a position of public relations and writing, films, documenting the work of the North Carolina Fund. So we came back, and we moved back into Chapel Hill. That was in, Billy came back in '63. The children and I came in early '64, and this was a five year project. He stayed with it for the full five years. He travelled the state, made some films, some documentary films, and a lot of writing and a lot of still photographs as well, which you will find in a lot of places across the country. This was an interesting time in our lives because it was in the thick of the Civil Rights Movement, and I remember, the day we came back to Chapel Hill to look for a place to live, before we closed out our house in Atlanta and brought the children back, was a time when students and others were involved in peaceful protest. I remember a particular traffic jam and trying to figure what was going on and being told that there were people

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sitting in the road. It was a glimpse of things to come, getting into Chapel Hill in a peaceful protest. So we came back here in the very middle of that time.
[Pause] During those early years of the Civil Rights Movement, with Billy's direct involvement with much of what was happening in regards to poverty andalso in regard to integration, because the teams that he travelled with were black and white teams, and the people that he worked with were black and white people. Because he was documentingthis era, he was in and out of a lot of places to take photographs and to interview people. Some rather frightening things happened sometimes on the road, and I worried about him when he left and went on the road. So those were very intense times for us. By then we had children that were growing up, but difficult, as well, because of the particular type of work that he was doing. During this time, I think we both became more and more and more aware of some of the injustices that existed at that time, particularly, and at this time to a large degree as well.
The North Carolina Fund was trying to find ways to break the cycle of poverty and later on the Great Society programs. President Lyndon Johnson dealt with some of those main issues. How do you help people out of poverty so that it isn't passed along generation after generation. It brought both Billy and me in contact with a lot of realities that our lives had not brought us in touch with before. Though certainly, growing up in a rural North Carolina area, I had learned a lot about segregation and had many things

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in my childhood to wonder about. But this brought it really home to us, and I guess it was at that time that I began to really care intensely about trying to do something that could help. So one way to do that is to get involved in politics, and I sort of slid into it, remembering that my earlier childhood had made me aware that politics is where a lot of things happen. I began to pursue Party politics and get involved in local politics and voice my opinions as a citizen on issues that were impacting the lives of people around me, and my own family. So I became involved somewhat in Democratic Party politics. I remember the frustration when we moved to Chapel Hill, that at that time the election laws here prohibited us from voting unless we had been here a year. The residency requirements have changed since that time so that people are not disenfranchised if they have to move, and I think that makes a lot of sense in a transient society. So I became involved in Party politics, and I remember the first time I called Democratic Headquarters to ask what I might do to be helpful. I was asked if I could bake.
Could bake?
Bake. There was a bake sale going on that was to raise money for the Party, and I think that a very noble thing to do. It wasn't quite what I had in mind but, as I recall, I did manage to bake something for the bake sale, and so that was my entree into that particular campaign at the time.
What year was that?
I'm trying to remember. It seems to me, well, it was here in Chapel Hill so it was some time between '64 and '68. So

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anyway, I wanted to do, I don't mind baking, I'm not a really excellent cook, never have been, but I wanted to do other things as well. So I got involved in the various movements surrounding the '68 campaign and went into the precinct meetings which were the first experience for me.
We had moved around so much during the time that Billy was in the service and after that time before we landed back in the Chapel Hill area, that we had hardly had time to put down any political roots. It takes a little time to find your way around organized politics, and it seemed just as we would begin, we would be up and on our way to a new place. So when we got here, we felt we'd have enough longevity here, and that has proven to be true, that we could really get involved. I was a great fan of Hubert Humphrey, and he's been an idol of mine. So I wanted to be as involved with his various campaigns as possible.
Then in 1969, a gentleman named Howard Lee ran for mayor of Chapel Hill. We had had the opportunity to know the Lee's through our church. We belonged to the same church, the Binkley Baptist Church, and I had taught Howard and Lillian's children in Sunday school and got to know them, a very lovely family. But no black person had run for a top position around here, and Howard had a desire to run for mayor. He had become very involved with the town. So had I, through zoning and planning issues and school integration issues. So he began to talk to many of us about the possibility of helping him to run for mayor, and I thought that was a great idea. So I became the, he has referred to me as the manager of his campaign. It was a campaign that had several, it was a shared responsibility, but I

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managed the headquarters with a lady named Peg Parker. She and I shared that responsibility. As the campaign moved along, more and more and more responsibilities were placed on me. My husband did the public relations and publicity work for Howard's campaign, and Florry Glasser taught me everything I ever knew about precinct organization because she did the precinct organizing and did just a fantastic job of it. I learned a great deal during that campaign. It was a victory that is one that I will never forget the feeling. I also managed Howard's second campaign as mayor and became involved, as well, with his Congressional campaign. However, in the interim, I attended precinct meetings and became elected to the Precinct Committee and to the County Executive Committee from my precinct, and in that capacity, worked for a number of years in the Democratic Party organization very intensely. Also, because I had gotten that experience in that victorious campaign, I was asked by many people running for office to manage their campaigns. So I got more and more experience in campaign management.
My children were still rather small at the time. I did not feel that I could give the time then to run for office myself, but I was always pleased to help other good people get elected. So I spent much of my time juggling my home responsibilities and my responsibilities to my children with a lot of hours every day in politics. That was a thing that women did a lot of because at that time, I suspect, there were more women at home with the time to do that. It's become increasingly difficult to find people who can put that kind of time into a campaign. Volunteers are

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out working now at jobs and haven't as much time to volunteer as earlier. Then in 1972, I was elected Vice Chairman of the Party for Orange County, and then in 1974, I was elected Chair of the Party in the Orange County Democratic Party, and in that capacity began to take more and more responsibility for the state Democratic effort as a member of the State Executive Board, the Council I guess it's called. In 1974 or '75 there was a mini-convention. The National Democratic Party held a mini-convention. It was a between-presidential-elections convention. This one was the first one held. I don't remember whether it was the last one or not. Terry Sanford was involved with that and presided over the convention. I was elected the Democrat to that convention from the second Congressional District.
Where did that take place?
The mini-convention was in Kansas City, [Missouri] and I went. I bring this up because it was my first experience with the National Democratic Party Convention. It gave me an opportunity to learn a great deal. One of the highlights is that I did have the chance to meet Hubert Humphrey personally and have a few words with him because he had been my idol for such a long time and still is, I guess. That makes that Convention stand out in my mind, as well as the superb job I thought that Terry Sanford did presiding over that Convention. So that was another shot in the arm to continue my involvement with politics. Almost every year, there was some candidate I thought was very worthy of running. So I was always involved in campaigns. In 1978, I decided to run for office myself. My children were almost grown,

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and I ran for County Commissioner. In '72, we were fortunate enough to elect the first woman and the first black to the Board of Commissioner's,* and they served well there. But there were a lot of lost votes because they were a minority, at the time, on progressive issues. So we felt that, the political group that I worked with most closely, felt it important to give them another person on the board that could possibly make the minority the new majority. So we had a very grand campaign and we won. I didn't share their philosophy, the old group, and then the Board of Commissioners, with the new majority, began to move at that time in more progressive ways—ways that were more sensitive to the urbanizing area here in Chapel Hill. But it's a tedious job to balance the rural interests with the urban interests, and so that always had to be done with a good deal of care. In 1976, I managed Commissioner Don Wilhoit's campaign, and Don was elected to the Board of Commissioners. He's still on the Board of Commissioners. In 1978, I ran myself. Flo Garrett had decided that she would not run for another term in 1976 so there was no woman on the board at the time. So I ran in '78 and was very pleased to lead the ticket and to have served on that board for three years, three years of a four year term. In 1981, Patricia Stanford Hunt, who was one of the representatives to the House of Representatives for this district, left, resigned from the legislature after the session in 1981. She resigned in the fall of 1981 to accept a judgeship from Governor Hunt. That created a vacancy, and the machinery for appointing people to fill vacancies came into play. I was interviewed, as were several

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others by the Committee of the Democratic Party that was to make that recommendation to the Governor. I was selected to move into that position and appointed by Governor Hunt in December of '81 to fill that vacancy. I ran in 1982 for the full term and have been running every two years since.
What years were you elected from your own campaign?
I was elected in the fall of 1982 for the '83-'84 term and took office in the term of January of '83.
So then you've been in the House for six, seven years?
Seven years. I'm into my eighth year in the House.
What would you say, at this point, has been the highlight of you career? What's been the most important to you?
Well, most people take something of an agenda with them when they move into public office. I had a particular sensitivity at the time about the partnership between local government and state government because I had served on the County Board of Commissioners and had an opportunity to learn already about the interaction between many services, particularly social services and the whole array of human services. How counties are impacted by certain decisions that the state makes. So this was one of the things that I wanted to work on when I went there. I had also been involved in the ERA movement and was still hoping very much that North Carolina could become one of the states to ratify, and I guess will always be disappointed that that didn't happen, as I suspect most of the women you've talked to are feeling at this point. It was a long, hard campaign for ERA and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of

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really fine people across the state during that era. I wanted to be there [in the legislature] to have a chance to vote for it. Unfortunately, I never had that opportunity because the times that it came before the General Assembly, since I've been there, it came in the Senate and did not get out of the Senate, so the House did not have an opportunity to vote on that. There were several other issues that I, as a volunteer, had lobbied the General Assembly for before I was a member of the General Assembly. One of those was the death penalty, to repeal the death penalty. So I hoped to be there and have an opportunity to influence that, and we were, last year, fortunate enough to get enough votes to eliminate the death penalty for persons under seventeen, which is a little bit of progress. I understand that this time, we will have a bill to make the same kind of determination, or decide not to make it for people who are mentally retarded or mentally ill. So there's a little progress in that area.
The ERA movement made me able to articulate and clearly define, in my own mind, some of the very real discrimination that was occurring, and the injustices, inequality, that women in our society have experienced. I had experienced some of this in my personal life, but had not clearly understood what was happening. My involvement with the ERA movement and getting more and more familiar with the laws, pointed out to me many areas that could be corrected even without the ERA movement, even without ratification of ERA, by changing the laws. So I took on myself, along with other women and some men in the legislature, to set about and change some of these

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laws. So a lot of the time that I've spent in the General Assembly, particularly in the early several years, was addressing these problems of inequality and trying to change the laws. We've made some progress in that area, and I feel good to have been a part of that. We're not home free yet, but a lot of the laws are changing. Sometimes we find ourselves in a position of having to protect our gains. I think right now that's the position that we're in, protecting our gains and perhaps not in a mode to move forward. But at least maybe we can have a stand to keep the gains that we've made.
What would you say those gains are? And then your comment that we're not in a position to move forward, why do you think that is?
Well, the gains that we have made are that we've changed the law having to do with distribution of property at a divorce, with the passage of the Equitable Distribution Law. We changed the laws in regard to tenancy by the entirity—land ownership laws. We've changed the inheritance laws. We've changed some tax laws. Made little bitty gains in insurance, but not enough. Those kinds of things that were simply laws that were written to favor men and had been on the books for a long time. We've made some progress in those. We've also been able to establish and maintain a State Abortion Fund so that indigent women might exercise their right for a choice. At this point, I think the whole country, during the last eight years and perhaps in the foreseeable future, or at least the next four, has done a pendulum swing to the far right. I think probably through

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history, we will be able to track, though I'm no historian, I like to think that when the pendulum swings, it will eventually swing back. But right now I think the pendulum is still over on the right hand side. With this bent toward the conservative side, there's less opportunity to pass those kinds of laws and to hold on, to keep the pendulum steady so that it doesn't swing even sharper to the right.
If we can hold on to the things that we have and not have those laws tampered with and changed back, then we will have, at least, stood our ground on them. But that's very difficult to do when the makeup of the policy makers is more and more conservative. So that's the place that we find ourselves now, trying to hold on to the gains that we have made until things swing back a little bit to the moderate, toward the moderate place, and give us a chance to move forward on correcting some more of these laws that are holding women back and causing women and their children to be the largest group of people who live in poverty. There is still economic injustice going on. There are not the same kinds of educational opportunities, so there is still a lot of work to do. Since that time I've also, because sometimes you can't stick exactly with your own agenda, and you assume the agenda according to the assignments that you receive. So some of the assignments that I received came by way of my predecessor's work. Trish Hunt was very involved with juvenile justice issues, and I assumed some appointments that had been hers. I was appointed to some vacancies on committees that she had served on. So I have done quite a lot in the years that I have been there in regards to the

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juvenile code and juvenile justice issues. That has been very interesting and was not an area of the law that I had much knowledge of. So it has given me an opportunity to learn a lot in that area and to have some success in making improvements in the juvenile code. Then another assignment that I received that I certainly did not ask for, Speaker Liston Ramsey appointed me to chair the House Standing Committee on Corrections. I had had really no experience with prison systems, the corrections system. I tried to stay out of places where people were incarcerated, but I began to move in and out of prisons and get a better grasp. Your recorder is winking at you.
Yes, we'll take a break here.

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So my agenda for the past three or four years has been dominated by the work that I've been asked to do, which I had no idea that I would be asked to do. In regards to prison overcrowding and the lawsuits that the state is experiencing in regards to the conditions in our prisons and alternatives to incarceration, the whole area there of how will we manage offenders, how can we manage offenders better, what works, what doesn't, what the price of punishment is. So, with the Corrections Committee Chairmanship and then shortly thereafter, adding to that a Co-Chairmanship of a joint Senate/House Committee called the Special Committee on Prisons that was created as a select committee by Lieutenant Governor Jordan and Speaker Ramsey in December of '85. It is still operating to deal specifically with the conditions in our prisons and the problems of overcrowding to try to stay ahead of the lawsuits as best we can to keep the federal courts from taking over our system as they have in so many states. The bulk of my time and energy over the past several years has been with that set of issues. That is not something I chose, but it is something I was asked to do, and something that very much needs attention and must be done. That gives you an indication of the way our agenda is set forth, and we don't always have complete control over it. But I've become very, very interested in the issue. The more time and energy you invest in it, the more you want to see it through to some kind of successful conclusion. That's what I've been doing with a lot of my time.

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Also, another issue that I've had an opportunity to work in, which has been gratifying, particularly coming from this area, is the education issue. I've served on the Educational Appropriations Committee for about six years, and though I was not appointed to that Committee by the new Speaker, I am on the Education Committee. There's an Educational Appropriations Committee and an Education Committee, so I'll still have an opportunity to be involved with education issues. That's important to the constituents that I represent and important to me, so that's another of the items on my agenda.
If you could spend all your time working on issues that are personally important to you, what would those issues be?
Well, as I said, it's important to me to finish what I start. So I would continue with the issues that I've mentioned to try to bring them to some kind of conclusion, particularly the prison population problem. I do spend almost full time being a legislator. I'm not working at another job right now, and so I can give more time to it than some can, and I choose to do that. I'm spending most of my time working on issues as it is. If I were not doing the prison things right now, if we had moved along far enough that I felt I could slip out of that issue, I would like to spend more time getting back to the issues of poverty. I told you my early concerns about that, growing out of those years, so many years ago, when my husband was working with the North Carolina Fund, the Great Society years. I think we've moved so far away from the Great Society, so far from the ideal

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that Lyndon Johnson held up before us, that somehow we need to get back to addressing the issues of poverty and injustice in our society. That's an underlying concern of mine in almost everything that I do. The women's issues that I've worked on, much of that is economic. The education issues, the prison issues, the root of so many of those problems stem from the economic injustices and the way that the American Dream just isn't coming true for so many of our citizens. It seems to have taken a swing for the worse in the last eight years. I'd like to get back on the track of addressing these issues instead of treating the symptoms. The symptoms show up in prison—that I spent a great deal of time working with. . . . How did all these people, what are we going to do with all these people that we're being asked to incarcerate? How are we going to manage that offender population? In doing the statistical work and the research that I read, so many of these problems begin when these people are children, with child abuse and poverty and a lack of environment that encourages education and the kind of education that can be useful to people who are from underprivileged situations. Such a large percentage of the prison population are people who are illiterate. It has to tell you something. You have to take notice that something's happening earlier on that's filling up our prisons, and how, in our education system, can we address those problems early enough. How, with little children, can we get at the problems that are causing lives to go awry later on? I'm still extremely concerned about poverty, social injustice in our country and our state. If I had nothing else to

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do and no other assignments, I'd like to get back onto that issue and not be sidelined by the symptoms of it so much as trying to address the roots of those problems.
I'm thinking, too, of some of the things I saw listed on your resume, more in the category of civic activities and an involvement with North Carolina Equity and then the Women's Forum of North Carolina. So it seems in some ways that your civic activities have been, in some ways, addressing what you were just talking about here as well as highlighting women's concerns.
That's correct. I guess there's an overlap, and when you do a resume, you can't quite divide political from civic from community or whatever. So you do the best that you can with it. To me, it's all a part of the whole. My emphasis in my civic life, non-political life or whatever, overlap and correspond with the things that I do in politics as well. Maybe I'm in a rut. I should try to [laughter] look at something entirely different. I do miss the dancing part of my life. I miss that opportunity to work with children and the teaching situation. I miss the exercise too. I just don't have much time for that anymore. I used to do a lot of square dance calling for church groups, etc. and folk dancing with young people and did a lot of work with the Girl Scouts in taking the Girl Scouts through their Dancer Badge, in taking whole troops through the badge requirements at a time. I don't have time to do that anymore. So if ever I get a little piece of time, I'd kind of like to get back to some of those activities that are so enjoyable to me in a totally different vein from what I do in politics.

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What, then, do you see these other kinds of organizations, what role do you think they play in the life of North Carolina?
Which organizations? The Forum and Equity?
Right, I'm thinking of all the things that were listed under civic activities on your resume, even though, as you acknowledge, there's a great deal of overlap.
Well, there are some things that government does not do best. There are some things that the private sector does best. There's no way to take the politics out of politics, because I've tried. It doesn't work. It's there. It's a party system. It's built into our system. Therefore, changing people [through elections] causes changes in direction. Things the Governor does, things the legislature does, are always subject to the political winds. Therefore, you find yourself in the position of having to, as I said earlier, defend the gains that you've gotten because the winds have changed. Organizations outside of government aren't subject to those winds. They can keep an ideal alive through the tough times. So my involvement with North Carolina Equity Incorporated and the Women's Forum of North Carolina, the Women's Political Caucus, these are organizations that can keep certain ideals alive while the storms are being weathered politically, and that's important. Where I may not be able to do much more on the women's issues right now than just try to hold ground, other organizations can move ahead with providing additional research, keeping ideas alive, continuing educational programs, seminars, making contacts. Those things

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can sometimes be much better done outside of government than inside of government. So I think there's a very definite place for both kinds of organizations. I'm very pleased with groups like Women's Forum and North Carolina Equity because they can keep moving straight ahead without being impacted by the changes that happen politically.
I imagine that more people are familiar with, in North Carolina, with the Political Caucus than with the Women's Forum and North Carolina Equity. Would you take a minute to describe what those two organizations are and what they do?
North Carolina Equity Incorporated is a foundation funded for women's issues. I serve on the board of the organization as does Jane Patterson, whom you have already interviewed, and Betty McCain, whom I think you have already interviewed. Wilma Woodard, former Senator Wilma Woodard, is the Chair of that group. This organization was set up for the purpose of concentrating on the inequities that women in North Carolina are subjected to, define those inequities and do necessary research, educational programs in regard to certain injustices, and to try to find ways and promote ways to improve the economic environment or climate for women in North Carolina. It's two years old now, I think, and it's had some growing pains, as most organizations do when they're trying to find themselves, but it is well on the way now. I'm feeling very positive about it because we have been able to define some very specific things that need to be addressed and are now fully staffed—almost fully

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staffed—to move ahead with those particular issues. So that, basically, is what that organization is.
The Women's Forum, I was not involved in it's beginning, so I can't tell you as much about its beginnings, but I have been a member of the Forum for several years. It's main benefit to me has been to give me an opportunity to know other women across the state who come together for meetings to discuss issues of interest and to share with each other. So it's been, for me personally, more of a network of contacts and people that I wouldn't have had the opportunity to know otherwise. It tries to seek out women that have an involvement, who have some reasons for being called, perhaps, outstanding in the areas in which they operate. And that's a wonderful kind of group of people to be a part of. They're women, some of us, who have done most of our work in politics. Others who have done a great deal of work in the business world, in the world of education. So it's given me a chance to, it's just a great group of people who have a lot of different experiences to share. For me, the Forum has been an opportunity to know other women who have been extremely involved in different areas and to come together with them and look at various issues and try to share our experience in our particular area of involvement.
It sounds, then, somewhat as though it's a network of women from a variety of area of work who share experiences and trade information. Are there any activities that the Women's Forum takes on?

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We always have topics for our meetings, timely topics, and bring in some experts to talk about those, and there are some pretty lively discussions, and that's of an educational nature. We also are involved in finding outstanding women and giving awards to outstanding women in recognition of their contributions to North Carolina. That's an annual event, and the Women's Forum does take positions on certain issues that seem appropriate to them. It's a bipartisan group, and so it's not a Democrat or a Republican position, but positions on things that impact all women. So, from time to time, when there are issues of an outstanding nature where a consensus is possible, or near consensus at least, the Forum does take a position on some of those issues on behalf of women and expresses that to the public.
What would you say would be some of the women's issues that there have been a consensus on?
When the Forum first started, and I don't know that it's still true, but I think it is. . . . There's someone else you'd have to ask who is an officer and looks at the constitution and by-laws more carefully than I do. A requirement of being in the Forum, and people are voted in, or not voted in, the Forum. . . . Everybody who's invited to join by another member must go through a process of getting the entire Forum's approval to be a member. So in that way, I guess it's a little bit an exclusive organization but for some very particular reasons. In the beginning, and certainly when I became a member, the person was required to support the ERA to be a member. I don't know if there is any laxity in that now since ERA is not quite as hot

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an issue as it was at the time, but so far as I know, it's still a requirement. So that, from the very beginning, would be one kind of consensus issue for the people who were in that particular organization. We have taken positions on several issues that are not coming to my mind immediately, but some of the issues that I had talked about before. Well, one thing that we did take an action on was the talk here at the University on the Board of Trustees about changing the admissions standards because there were too many women at the Chapel Hill campus. There was a lot of discontent and distress, and the Forum happened to be having one of its meetings very soon after that. So I do remember that we took an action that our president would send a letter to various people, a response to that kind of thinking, that standards should be lowered in order that more males would be more favorably looked on.
I actually recall that because that was my first semester here at Chapel Hill. So that was in the fall of 1986, at least that's when the trustees made the comment, so I would imagine you would have responded soon after that.
It was soon after that. We happened to have a meeting scheduled quite soon after those comments came forward so a letter did go—and that was by action of the Forum—a letter did go to express our distress with that kind of attitude, that kind of thinking. That's one thing I can remember we did have a consensus on. The others are just not coming to me right now.
Let me ask you this. In the last question, I said that more people were probably aware of the North Carolina Women's

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Political Caucus than these other two organizations that you've now described. But what has the Caucus been involved in since the loss of the ERA campaign?
I'm not as closely involved with the Caucus, particularly in recent years when I've had so many other things. I hope that the Caucus will be regenerated. It was at its height, I believe, during the ERA movement. Since that time, I suspect, and you'd have to ask someone more directly involved than I, I suspect the Caucus doesn't enjoy quite as large a membership. I do attend some Caucus meetings, particularly when we were invited. The Caucus makes a real effort to keep in touch with the people, the women that are elected, the women who run. I have been fortunate to have the endorsement of the Caucus all of the times that I've run for the General Assembly. Then they invite us to a dinner, whether we've won or lost, to recognize those persons that they endorse, and that's always a very nice event. I feel very honored because of it. But the numbers, I believe, are not as great now. There, perhaps, has not been the one focus, the cause, which does tend to generate interest when you have one particular cause, and the ERA did that for women all over. The state was brought into some focus, and without that, it's a little harder sometimes to keep the enthusiasm going. But I'm very hopeful the Women's Political Caucus will get new energy because I think it serves a role, it plays a role, it serves a purpose that no other organization does because it gets directly involved, as an organization, in campaigns. Now, Equity does not do that, and Women's Forum does not do that. They're a different

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type of effort. But the Women's Political Caucus does do that, and it's the only organization specifically toward women candidates and other candidates who favor women's issues or favor the Caucus' position on certain women's issues. It's the only one that does that, and we need that.
We still have not nearly the numbers of women elected to positions in this state as we should have. That takes a lot of encouragement for women. Politics is tough. Campaigning is tough. It's expensive. People need to have some kind of organization behind them that will help with the expenses of the campaign. The Caucus does that. Women need a support group. When you go out in politics, it's a scary experience sometimes when it's your first time out, or you haven't been around it enough to know that it's tough. There's a need to stick together and feel that kind of support organization behind you. Women need more encouragement to run for office, need more support once we get there. It's not easy running for office, and I think that women tend to be more susceptible to wanting to please, wanting to be popular. It's a part of our culture, at least for women my age. Maybe that's becoming less and less true, and I don't know if that's good or bad, but it's important to care about pleasing. All of that's important. But in politics you can't please everybody, and you have to be ready to take unpopular positions without it getting at you personally, without it being destructive to your own inner ego. It takes a lot of ego to be in politics. It's hard to be humble in politics because you're forced all the time to not be. You have to appear to be strong. You have to appear, in order to

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get elected, you have to appear to have things pretty well under control. And the truth is that you may not have it under control at all, because if you retain your sensitivity, you're going to be torn inside by these issues. But you don't want insensitive people to be elected. You don't want callous people to be elected. So it's tedious to balance between a personal inner sensitivity and the ego that it takes, or this appearance of strength that it takes, and the appearance of not being affected by whatever is being thrown at you and still maintain the sensitivity which you think the people really want you to have to the issues. That's a tough place. That is a tough balance to get to. I can remember early on when I was on the Board of Commissioners, having to deal with that, having an issue that I just had to deal with it. Was I going to be intimidated by an angry public or was I going to retain, was I going to be strong enough not to be intimidated, but still retain the sensitivity to deal fairly and even-handedly with people on both sides of the issue? Because I have felt intimidated. When you're in a public hearing where there's a lot of emotion and where you're being, publicly a lot of things are being said that seem to be personal attacks on your integrity or on your judgment. That's tough, and I think maybe in our culture men have been a little better prepared to deal with those, with that kind of adversity. I remember a story once, I heard in a workshop or in a speech, the example being that of a small boy who had been assigned a task that became too difficult, and he felt he could not accomplish it. Approached his father, who said to him, "Oh son, you can do

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it. I will show you how." And a small girl, facing the same situation, saying "Daddy, I can't do it." Daddy would take her on his lap and say, "Don't worry about it, honey, I will do it for you." That kind of early culture there, I hope that that is not as true as it was when I was a child because it teaches you to have someone else to do it for you, or it teaches you that it will be okay if you can't handle it yourself. There will always be help there, and that's tough to overcome. So that's sort of the situation I think many women feel themselves in when they want to get into politics. "Can I handle this myself? Can I do this?" And that's tough to come out forward and do.
It makes me wonder as you say that because it's certainly a lot of the things you hear generally about what might make it hard for women to succeed in politics. From what you know about the political climate for women in other states, what would you say about North Carolina? Is it easier for women in North Carolina? Is it harder? Is there something about North Carolina that you'd care to add?
Well, I don't know the statistics about, I know that there are larger numbers of women in some other General Assemblies. The state of New Hampshire has the most women elected anywhere. I don't know for what reasons that's true, but I just don't know enough from state to state about that. I do know that there are other states, some of them in the South, who have elected women statewide, to statewide office. That has not yet happened in North Carolina. I think that makes us very far behind. I don't know the reasons for it. I don't know the

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dynamics of what has happened in other states that would cause a breakthrough for women who are governors or lieutenant governors, in other high positions, statewide positions. But we haven't been able to even crack that in North Carolina. We've never had a women as governor or lieutenant governor nor any officer on the Council of State. That's just unbelievable to me, that we have not been able to break through that barrier. Some of it may be some fault of our Party system, that we have a great many men in the leadership, and they tend to stay very long times. I don't think that it's excuse enough to turn someone out of office simply because they've been there a very long time, but it doesn't make many opportunities for new people to come in, and that's just the fact of the matter. I wonder if the attitude of the voter in North Carolina is yet to the point that women or blacks could be in the state, elected to statewide office. We've come close when Howard Lee ran for statewide office, but we were not victorious in that. We've had women to run before. We ran for lieutenant governor, Margaret Harper, you know, quite some years ago, but didn't come close to winning even the primary. So I'd say that we might be lagging behind, at least behind some states, and I'd like to see that change.
You mentioned that, conceivably, part of the problem might be in the Party structure, and I've heard before how entrenched, especially in the Democratic Party, the leadership is. Yet just recently there was the shake-up over the Speakership. Was it in the House?

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The House. Does that seem to you as a positive change or a negative change for women, or is it hard to say?
In so far as women are concerned, I don't know how that would impact on that particular situation. Of course, the Speaker that was elected is not a woman, but is newer to that position, certainly, and I think that there has been some feeling that people stay too long, maybe too long in those kinds of positions. I believe that one outcome will be that we will put a limit on the number of terms that a Speaker of the House can serve in that position, and I think that is a positive move and will provide more regular opportunities for any woman who would like to run for Speaker to run, or a man either, just by shortening that to two terms. As you know, Speaker Ramsey served for four terms and was going for a fifth term. So if a limit is put on that, then it will automatically create opportunity for anyone who would want to run for it, and I think in that respect it would be a positive aspect. What was the first part of your question about what you first started with this before you did the Speaker thing? Oh, people that get entrenched.
Right. I'm glad you remembered. I didn't.
I think that perhaps the Democratic Party has not done enough to nurture or foster women candidates. Sometimes when the powers that be in the Party are looking around for candidates to run for certain high positions, I'm not sure that the thought is coming in their minds that there are many qualified women and that for the Party's ticket to be a balanced one, that women and blacks need to be considered for the good of the entire Party. To

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have that kind of representation on our statewide ticket is a healthy thing. And it's not that I think that someone should be given the nod BECAUSE they are black or BECAUSE they are a woman, but a sensitivity to the fact that these are people who have stuck with the Party, worked for the Party for years and years and years and have gained enough expertise now that many could do an excellent job in the statewide positions. So I don't think the Democratic Party has been as sensitive to that as it should be. We kid some in the General Assembly, the women there, we do have a Women's Legislative Caucus, and we all get along fairly well. You know, lots of different philosophies there. We're not all alike on every issue, but we like each other, and we try to be supportive of each other personally and enjoy that Caucus. But we kid around, the Democratic women do, and say that opportunities right now for women are greater in the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Some reasons for feeling that are the fact that, as I told you, I think, when the tape was not running, that Representative Betsy Cochrane, who is a Republican, was elected Minority Leader in the House and is the only woman to ever serve in a position of elected leader by her Party in the House, and that's a positive move. More and more women are being elected to the legislature from the Republican Party. So the gap in numbers there between the parties is fast closing. The Republican ticket this past election, statewide ticket, had a woman and a black on it. The Democratic ticket had all white males, so it's interesting to see that happening in the two parties. One thing that you might say, to explain that a little

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bit, is that the Republican Party in North Carolina has not been in power so long that it has a knot of people at the top. So there's not as many people, there are more openings because there's not a fistful of people at the top holding onto those positions. So they have the opportunity to move women up faster than Democrats do because of the situation we found ourselves in with so many already in positions that they want to hold on to.
We can just hope that the Democratic Party will learn its lesson from this.
I certainly hope so.
Offhand, I can't think of another particular question along these lines. Would you like to add anything else about your political career at this point?
Well, there have been so many interesting experiences of learning the ins and outs of politics. I hope that women can get to a place that we can accept the fact that we do not have to be an expert in everything in order to take on a responsibility. Men tend to say, "Look at me. Sure I can do it," and they've had absolutely no experience at it. Women tend to think, "Well, I've got to get twenty-five Ph.D's in this before I can take on this responsibility." And while I think that it's important to continue to broaden our education and our knowledge and our experience, it is not essential to have all of the experience before you take on a role. You can learn it. I didn't know everything there was to know about being County Commissioner before I ran, but I've learned. I didn't know everything there was to know about being in the legislature. I learned every day

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there, and it's okay to do that. So that would be an encouragement, I think, to women to take some risks. We're not big risk takers, I don't think, or tend to not be, and you have to take some risks if you're going to get into a position of being able to impact the political system in the policy making. It's a risky kind of business, but that can be sort of fun, and if you just get over the barrier of doing it, it can be fun, and I certainly enjoy it. There are good days and bad days, like in anything else, but I've enjoyed it, and I hope that more women will get to a place of taking some risks. We need to do more, people like me need to do more mentoring to younger women, bringing them along if they show an interest in it and helping them to move into politics, because I'm getting a little tired. I have three grandchildren now, and I don't get to see them much because politics takes so much of my time. So I'm not really wanting to be going forever, and I'd like to feel that there are women, young women, coming along that are willing to take these risks and take these positions and increase the numbers of women that are in policy making positions.
I'd like to say just a word about my mother. I talked about my dad earlier because he was the one that was really interested more in politics and that was your specific question, but my mother found some way to make three girls, three daughters, had no brothers, feel that we could take on almost anything, that we were ten feet tall. And though there are times when "tall" people need to be chopped back down to size, confidence, having it instilled in us early, that I have no

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reason to apologize for any of this [my background]. Because I grew up in the country, doesn't make any difference. Because I didn't get to get a college degree doesn't make me inferior. Because I'm a woman doesn't make me inferior. It's important for women, people, to grow up with that kind of confidence. Not overly confident or cocky, but just an underlying feeling that I can do this. That I can do it. I will do it, and I'm willing to take risks. That [confidence] comes from the people closest to you, and my mother was key in that. Sometimes it's aunts, and sometimes it's a teacher. Sometimes it's a friend, but I think it's important as women to encourage very young, young girls in having the type of confidence that is necessary because we still live in a world dominated by males, and that's changing. We ought to encourage our women to be a part of that change, because I think that's the shape of the future. That's the last thing I have to say.
Thank you very much.