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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Pat Cusick, June 19, 1989. Interview L-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Cusick criticizes the slow pace of Chapel Hill's and Sanford's liberal responses

Cusick expresses his ambivalence toward former Governor Terry Sanford's actions. Although Chapel Hill and Sanford embraced a liberal orientation, Cusick argues that neither went far enough to effect racial change.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Pat Cusick, June 19, 1989. Interview L-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I have a theory about that because I've seen it in other settings with other people, and Ehle quotes it in the book, I think. The playwright that had been around Chapel Hill, Paul Green, said something about Chapel Hill was a lighthouse, but something about its base. And I think in terms of Terry Sanford, and I still have mixed emotions about Terry Sanford, certainly in the line-up of southern governors, etc., etc., he was exemplarily. I mean, there's no doubt. I won't take away from that. And it took a lot of courage at various points in time. But he did not, and a lot of people react this way, Harvard is reacting very much this way in this town. In your own house or in your own base, you don't like to have things exposed. And we were attacking the bastion of liberalism, and they just could not understand. It was partially desegregated. There were some desegregated restaurants. Why were we saying they all had to be, you know? And it was embarrassing and he got very upset about that. Later on, he blamed the defeat of Richardson Pryor on us.
What do you thing about that?
Oh, I totally disagree to this day. I think the reason Pryor got defeated was the food tax. Terry Sanford put a tax on food. I mean, to blame—and he specifically blamed us in Chapel Hill for polarizing the whole damn state—not so. The state was certainly polarized on racial matters, but it wasn't due to just us in Chapel Hill. Just from conversations I had with white convicts and stuff who were not voters, but nevertheless, the main anger at Terry Sanford that they transferred to his protegee was the tax on food which was atrocious. That's in my view. Course, he will probably forever say, I don't know what his view is now. But I think that's why. But yes, he did. He didn't like what was going on in Chapel Hill, because we got more militant in our slogans and things when we did the big thing in February, the big action on February 1. I know one of the signs was "Chapel Hill, Home of Candy Coated Racism." [Laughter] I mean, that just did not go over well at all. I guess I felt then and I still feel to this day that because Chapel Hill had been liberal, because it had the reputation of upholding civil liberties and so forth, and had been a beacon as compared to other southern institutions, it had more responsibility. It should have been out there itself as a University and even Terry. So I don't buy that. Didn't buy it then and don't buy it now.