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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anne Barnes, January 30, 1989. Interview C-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Beginning her political career as a Democratic Party volunteer

Barnes relates how her husband's work showed her the degree of poverty and oppression in her home state and motivated her to become involved in politics in 1968. Her first assignment from the Democratic Party: goods for a bake sale.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Anne Barnes, January 30, 1989. Interview C-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

The North Carolina Fund was trying to find ways to break the cycleof 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 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 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.