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Title: Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, December 18, 1990. Interview L-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Friday, William C., interviewee
Interview conducted by Cheatham, Cindy
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, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 53.6 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
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-09-24, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, December 18, 1990. Interview L-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0049)
Author: Cindy Cheatham
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, December 18, 1990. Interview L-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0049)
Author: William C. Friday
Description: 76.7 Mb
Description: 15 p.
Note: Interview conducted on December 18, 1990, by Cindy Cheatham; recorded in Unknown.
Note: Transcribed by Jovita Flynn.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series L. University of North Carolina, 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 William C. Friday, December 18, 1990.
Interview L-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Friday, William C., interviewee

Interview Participants

    WILLIAM C. FRIDAY, interviewee
    CINDY CHEATHAM, interviewer


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Well, I knew Anne Queen when she first came here. The President of the University doesn't deal as directly with student organizations as most people think because that's really the job of the Chancellor. But having been a Dean of Students myself, I took more than a casual interest and that's why I got to know her. My wife, Ida, was on the board of the YWCA and in fact, was chairman, I think, at one time and she helped to get people into the program. So, my whole family has been involved with the Y program in Chapel Hill. Anne Queen is what I would call "out of the mold" of Chapel Hill. Let me explain what I mean by that. Having seen a lot of universities all over the country in thirty-five years, you get to the point where you wonder why there are such differences among these institutions. They all teach, they all have research activities and they all engage in public service. But what is it that makes it so different when you say somebody's from Chapel Hill? or somebody is from Madison or Ann Arbor or Austin or Berkeley? Those are the great public universities in the country. I think it's this. I think that young people, when they go through the experience at Chapel Hill get so much more than this classroom and laboratory experience; that they learn how to live in the world. They learn to get along with people. They learn that compromise is the way to advance an idea, never giving it up, but moving in a constant but gradual movement forward to achieve a longer objective. Now the reason for that kind of process is that you learn as you do. And I believe that the reason that

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Chapel Hill conducted itself the way it did during the post Kent State problems and the Viet Nam problems was because students here knew first, that they could speak their mind. They knew that they could speak to anybody they wanted to from the President on down. But they also knew that when they were free to do these things, that they had to act responsibly because there is no such thing as freedom without some sense of obligation and responsibility. If you try to assume that, then it's anarchy. People don't act within the context of a democratic process. So, I believe that the difference in young people who go through and really work at the experience of being a student here gain so much more in the sense of maturity and judgment and experience that they're ready to take on the world when they leave here. You don't find this in every institution, regrettably. Well, Anne Queen is one of those spirits. I used to tell her she was den mother to the whole student body, if they wanted to come to her house, you know, because her place stayed open all the time. There was never a time when you couldn't go by there and find students sitting and talking and arguing and debating. She was a marvelous, and still is as far as that goes, a marvelous personality at helping students think these things out, you see. It's one thing to react emotionally to something because you feel it and believe it, and that's good. But it's also the mark of an educated person to have that sense of motivation, but to have the capacity to reason and think all the way through it to a resolution or solution. Well, that's what Anne did. She was a catalyst, she was a stimulator, she was den

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mother, she cooked, she sewed. She did all these things because her whole life was given to young people. She got such enormous satisfaction out of it that I don't believe she was ever tired. She was running full speed from the moment she woke up in the morning until she put her head on the pillow at night. I don't think she ever quit moving and working and challenging and doing and serving, and you know, touching the lives of people. I know of no time when she ever faltered and I knew her pretty well. Our means of communication was always through the telephone or by meeting each other and talking. We never worked in the structured formality of the University because it was not possible. But there was never a time when she ever doubted that she could pick up the phone and say to me, "This is what we need to do," or "This is where we need some help." And I would explain to her what I could do or couldn't do. We were perfectly open with each other and in that way she was a very valuable person to me. Of course, I knew when I heard what she had to say that she was reflecting the consensus from students. Any university administrator needs that, you see, if he's really going to work with young people. I'll put it another way around. Any chief administrative officer who didn't develop that is throwing away one of the greatest assets he could have. So she moved through all these years and the lives of all of these people as a positive, challenging, stimulating, motivating, spiritual force. In other words, she lived, in my view, a very noble existence here. Never easy, always with stress. But you see, the demarcation of people like Anne Queen is that they have

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inner peace. They can take on all these controversies because it doesn't upset them. They know what they're dealing with. I'm sure the person she loved the most and cared for the most was Dr. Frank Graham. He taught her that and the rest of us, too. I consider myself as much a student of his as Anne. Now, that was a generation at Chapel Hill that you don't see today, regrettably, and I don't know why. I don't think what I characterize as the experience or the demarcation of a [unknown] with this place, I think that's still true. And I'm sure it's because I'm not in touch. But I really believe what happens here is of such force that it carries you with it. She had that experience here and lived it to the fullest and is still doing it. I keep getting notes from her all the time. She watches a little television show I do and she's my resident mountain critic, I call her. [Laughter] But I think my characterization of her as den mother to the student body is about as encompassing as you can make it.
Well, I wanted to ask you about that. I wanted to ask you a little bit about the environment for women on campus while you served as President. What was it like and how did Ann work with the women at this University?
Well, you know, when I first came here, there was not open admissions for women at all. Then when you ask Governor Sanford about this he, when he was Governor, and I and a man named Dallas Herring down here who at that time was head of the school system for the state, created what is known as the Carlysle Commission. That work is really going to be a very

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profound item of history in this state when somebody takes the time to evaluate it because out of that process came the opening up of the University where all four year degree schools became arts and sciences campuses. We opened up the admission of women. We opened up UNC-G for the admission of men. We delimited the range of doctoral training, projected the development of the community college system, actually outlined the development of the University by taking in the campuses at Charlotte and Wilmington and Asheville. All of this, you see, in one particular report. Now, once it became true that the old policies that were very restrictive for women were to go, you know who jumped right in the middle with the emergence of that new idea. And that was Anne. Now look at the result of it today. Women predominate in enrollment here and this is true at N.C. State I found out. There are more women now than males. But it's the new day. You make these kinds of changes for many reasons. First, it's economic. You couldn't afford to have big university plants that weren't open to coeducation. Secondly, it is the way you want to have the academic experience because that's the way life is out there. You know, men and women, male and female; you work that way every day of your life. So, why have such a sequestered arrangement when you're reaching the years that are important. One of the great skills that Anne Queen possesses is that she never lost sight of where she's going. But she learned long ago how to do that with grace and style so that even when you disagreed with her you could never get angry because you knew that ultimately she would wear you

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down. It had to happen. And wear you down because the idea she had was right. It was the idea itself that she finally saw through. And it was not a matter of resistance. It was just a matter of how much can you achieve at one time in scheduling things and programming things. But she was and is a person whose mind never sleeps. She's just stirring up ideas all the time and that's what you want around a university community. You absolutely have to have an Anne Queen to work with young people.
Can you comment a little bit on some specific incidents during the period of upheaval when you were President? Were you President during the sit-ins in the early 1960's? How did you see her role during desegregation, Speaker Ban, food worker's strike and Viet Nam?
On all those issues you knew where Anne Queen stood philosophically. You knew where she stood intellectually and most of all, where she stood spiritually. It was never a question there. All you were doing in working with Anne Queen was deciding how to get there, whether you had to work in the context of ninety days or twelve months or two years. And she learned and was wise in dealing with the very hard fact that a public university has so many forces it has to deal with, you see, unlike a private institution. The legislature, for example. Public opinion en masse. Political rights, political lefts, male/female arguments, abortion cases, all these kinds of things. You live in this cauldron of controversy. So, when I said she is a person of inner peace, you knew where she was going to be. You didn't have to debate that part of it at all. You just said,

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"Now, Anne, how can we move from A to B in your opinion as we go down the road together?" She was a marvelous person. One of her great skills was that she listens. You know, so many people want to spend all their time talking. Anne is a listener and you get along a lot faster when you develop that capacity, especially when you're dealing with human beings in a sensitive situation such as a university.
Can you comment specifically on what you can remember about her role with the Chapel Hill human relations committee during the food worker's strike negotiations? Can you recall?
That's not something I know much about. I'd mislead you. But I know she was a force. There's no doubt about that.
Why do you think Anne was so effective with the students, in particular, and also with the administration and in the community?
Everybody trusted her. You know, that's the key ingredient. Trust. And they knew that she loved them. These were her children. Anne played that role; not mother, but the listening post, confidante, counselor. All these words fit her and that's what she was.
How do you believe that her unique background from the mountains contributed to the way that she dealt with young people and also, the administrators?
Have you ever known a mountain person that was impulsive? Never in your life. Most of them are deliberate people. They are careful people and they are people who know what adversity means. They use adversity to grow. That's an

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important point because a lot of people look for an excuse to quit trying and to quit doing. And as one old friend of mine around here said one day, he said, "You know, some people given a circumstance will grow in it. Others will swell up." You know, when they are given a chance to really lead. I don't think she ever entertained for a moment any thought of selfish gain in anything. Anne Queen never set out to be president. For anyone to even intimate that she would use a situation for personal aggrandizement is about as foreign as it can be. It's that sense that you had when you were in her presence. She was not manipulating things. She was not wheeling and dealing with another person's life. She was rock honest. Or as Chancellor House used to say about another person here, she was plain distressingly honest. [Laughter] I've always thought that was a great phrase.
You talk about her inner peace. How is that translated and how did she show that inner peace and that spiritual side of her to her students?
Well, it was not a matter of wearing her religion on her sleeve. It was just that you knew that here was somebody who you could sit down with who would be as honest as they knew how to be, who would be as helpful as they knew how to be, who would be as encouraging, stimulating, and truthful. She'd tell you when you were wrong, but not in any mean way. That's my point. You don't find many people like this lady. But when you do, the tendency is to overwork them because you want to do so much. I don't know what Anne's stress points were, but my guess is that

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she had a tendency to do just that; to push herself to the extreme limit at times, wearing herself out in service. We all have our faults, we all have our ways of doing things that irritate some people. I hope not many. But that's just who we are. This is coming around to the other point about her. She accepted you as you are. She didn't try to remake you overnight. She didn't lecture you about anything that you were doing that she knew to be questionable. She would show you by example.
Great. If you would use one phrase or several phrases, however you would like to put it, to tell us why Anne Queen is so admired by so many from so many areas around the University community and beyond, how would you summarize that up?
Well, you can't use one word to embrace a light like that. I like to feel that the real measurement of anyone's life is whether or not you've made a useful difference. That is, the fact that I was here, lived these years, worked at this job and am now gone, did it make any difference? In her case, all that you've heard is a testimony of the affirmation that she did. Now, why do you make a difference? Because you're useful. You teach by being and doing. And you work at what you want to do. In other words, to sit around and talk philosophy and religion and fate is one thing, but to talk it and then go do it is another thing. She was always the person that put action behind words. Now there were conservative people that didn't agree with her, didn't approve of her, criticized her. But no one ever questioned that principle about her and they never would.

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Can you backtrack just a bit and if you were to describe just the environment of upheaval while you were University President, how would you describe that within the student body and within the community?
What happened here was in lots of ways was a reflection of what was going on all over the country. Yes, there was student unrest, student anxiety, student concern and you would hope that the day would never come in a university where that would not be the case because if it isn't a vigorous, volatile, debating, challenging kind of atmosphere around here, I think you're a dead institution. You might go through the rote of teaching, the regiment of it, but you don't educate. It's a cyclical kind of thing. You go through a period of years like that and then everybody is just so weary of the whole business, you begin to hear words, "Well, this is the conformist generation. They are not going to challenge anybody. They aren't going to upset the boat. All they want to do is make money." You remember your contemporaries two years ago? Well, now it's changing again. You wouldn't be sitting here if it weren't changing. Look around you. The Peace Corps is coming alive again. There are so many things where young people have said, "No, it isn't making money." You have to make a decent living to provide for yourself and your family, but to be obsessed with it, to have greed as the consummate aim in life is to have no life at all. And that's the cycle that maybe I'm wishfully thinking, but I don't believe it. I think enough of you are saying, "This isn't the way the world is going to be."

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you have got to get along with the German and the Japanese, the Chinese, the Indonesian and the Afrikaaner. You've got to know these people. You've got to know what kind of world you're going to have. You don't do that by sitting over here in the corner. You do that by working at it and making mistakes and growing out of it. That's who she was. Somewhere, and I don't know where, somewhere back here in her life, early on, that happened to her. It's just as clear to me. I've seen thousands of people here in my thirty years here and you get to know certain things about character and personality traits and motivation and every once in while somebody comes across your vision like Anne Queen and you just say, "Gosh, if you had thirty of them, you could turn the place upside down." I don't know if you could survive thirty of them, but it would be worth a try. But she came along in years that the personality that she was, the experience that she was all came in full flower. She was a necessary person. And lots of people would tell you circumstances create these personalities. You find yourself thrown into a particular thing and you hope you've got within you the character and the integrity and the drive and the energy and the commitment that you'll take hold of whatever the situation is and deal with it. I think time and circumstance and personality coincide. I know Anne wouldn't be very happy in a collegiate atmosphere that was motivated by qualifying myself only to make money. Now she'd rail against it, but I don't think she'd find many wanting to join her. In those years, everybody was getting into something. Very few people didn't have an opinion. It was a very

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stimulating experience, but also one that drained you completely. Because people like Anne, you see, and anybody in the administrative structure, wouldn't be here if they weren't sensitive to young people. You are always trying so hard to help, you see, and understand why a decision has to be made a certain way. Because the tendency at that stage of our lives is to do everything in black or white. It's yes or no. There is no middle ground. That's the way she worked. As you can see, I have great affection for her.
I just have a few more questions. You are making references to her knowledge of the University environment and the realities of the pressures from the legislature and being a public University. Can you comment on how she was able to dispel some of the violence that was possibly growing within the students that she worked with and the potential radicalism that could have come about at this University.
Just be being who she was. You know, when somebody who is that personality type walks into a meeting and just stands there and doesn't say anything, it quiets it down. And she was not afraid to take home people who had not the pure motive, but the motive of radicalism. And she could see it. You see, she had discerning capabilities. And they were there. Don't let them mislead you. We had all kinds of people who were speaking up and some who were really trying to use the situation. Very few, but people do that to you, you know.
There's been a lot of criticism that the liberal community in Chapel Hill was living on its legacy of liberals

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such as Frank Porter Graham and Howard Odum and Carl Green. How would you comment on that on that criticism?
I would first ask who is making the criticism and see where they stood, you know. There's a famous old dictum, "You never know what the chief thinks till you stand in the chief's moccasins." There's a lot in that. The difference today and the difference in the years that Dr. Graham was here, and I worked with him, so I can speak with some experience, is the television cameras here and there are people crawling all over you for interviews and all this. He didn't have that experience. You live on the front page or on the television screen and there isn't that much news every day. But if there isn't something there they'll go out and try to create an incident, you know. You've seen this happen. No, that's an unfair allegation. Tell me which is the freest university in the state today. Tell me which University didn't violate the law during all of those crises. That was Frank Graham's number one principle. Frank Graham never advocated the integration of the University until the law said so. He was a great respecter of the legal process, the sanctity of the law, and that was precisely the position that I took. I talked to him and I understood what he wanted. His great liberalism came from his personal actions in trying to get the human heart to understand that all men, meaning all men and women of all races, sat down together. That was his whole strategy. I've had people ask me, "What did I look back upon as the most important thing I ever did?" Not that anything I ever did was important, but I would say the first thing with me was to

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keep the University free. The Speaker Ban law was put upon us under outrageous circumstances, you know. They suspended the rules. There were no hearings. We weren't given notice. They jammed the thing through. We tried one process. We couldn't get it reversed, so we went to the courts and it was done. No man has the right to ask you to disobey the law. That's the reason you go that route. And I happen to be a lawyer, so I naturally think that way.
Do you have any closing comments you'd like to make on things we perhaps haven't touched today about the Campus Y, perhaps or what Anne has left this University?
Let me put it this way. The great need in society today is for people who think in terms of why people, individuals, every one of us is entitled to certain fundamental things; the right of an education, to live freely and without fear, the right of protection of personal privacy. When you assert that and take that stand, you are also saying that "I'll take my share of the responsibility to maintain that as a democratic society, as a free community." That process begins in the home, in the schools and in the community, then the state and now our country. This is why the Anne Queens of the world are so important. They understand that. They work very hard to see to it that you understand it. Now, you'll do it in a way that will be different from this person or that person or the next person, but all four of you will be thinking in the same general direction. That's what her mission was and I believe it very deeply and I like to be associated with it. That's what I tried

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to do when I was here. The important thing is that it's a never ending struggle; not that there's a devil out there to be overcome, but when you make this change, then there's another one that's better. Then you just keep moving, keep moving, keep moving. In my lifetime, I can count off for you, there was no television when I was a boy, there were no jet aircraft, there was no space exploration, there were no sulfa drugs and all these things. Well, when you're my age, you'll look back and say there were no this and this and this. I left here this morning and had lunch in Brussels and am back home tonight in my bed. You travel five thousand miles an hour or whatever you're going to do. All these things, you see. But what you don't lose sight of is that all those things are true and wonderful. It's what's happening to you that you care about and therefore, what you do will be of use for America. That's the lesson she tried to teach in my view.
Great. Thank you so much for your time today.
Thank you. Very nice to see you, Miss Cheatham. Have a happy holiday.