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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 18, 1990. Interview L-0050. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Anne Queen's role in calming tensions surrounding student protests

Sanford talks about Anne Queen's role in calming tensions surrounding student protests and demonstrations in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, during the early 1960s. After briefly describing the political climate behind the demonstrations and his administration's effort to support civil rights, Sanford explains how Queen worked with the students to assuage remaining tensions. In describing her role in this conflict, Sanford asserts that during this era, Queen's work served to turn the YMCA/YWCA into the "social conscience" of the campus.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, December 18, 1990. Interview L-0050. 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

Somewhat toward the tail end of my administration we had created the Good Neighbor Council, which was really a human relations council, but people didn't know what human relations councils were. I stole that Good Neighbor program really from Franklin Roosevelt who had named the Latin American initiative of his administration the Good Neighbor Program and that had sort of faded into history. I thought it was an apt name for what we talking about and so we adopted that name. I think they now call it the Human Relations Commission. It's enacted in the law. We just did it with an executive order. And it began to talk about jobs and education and doing away with the burdens of segregation and made that a focal point. That followed the street demonstrations and the sit-ins. The sit-ins, of course, preceded the street demonstrations. It was part of our effort to let the black community know that we were trying to help them achieve their aspirations. So that was in place. Then a group of people in Chapel Hill demanded that the town of Chapel Hill enact an open accommodations law. There was Lyndon Johnson's open accommodations legislation that was being debated in Congress and Sam Ervin and others here were against it, of course. We were in a campaign in which Richardson Preyor was more or less carrying our banner and Dan Moore and Sam Ervin were in opposition to what we had been doing. In that kind of atmosphere, came this demand that Chapel Hill's board enact an open accommodations law. Now I doubt very seriously if they had the authority to do it, but in any event, they very properly, I suppose, reacted to a demand that they do something and they might have been inclined to do it. Certainly, Chapel Hill was one of the most liberal places in the state. But out of all of that came demonstrations in front of two or three places. Grady's was a particular source. I think it's the Grady's out there on the Pittsboro Road. I'm a little bit vague about whether they had moved out there or whether they were still on the Durham side, but they were continuing to demonstrate. And by that time, we were sort of over the hump on that issue. This was a resurgence of the demonstrations. They had declared, I think, CORE, that they were really going to descend upon Chapel Hill and close it down if the City Council didn't do this and I assured the City Council and the people that nobody was going to take over running North Carolina, that we were going to continue to run it. The first time, I was a little bit more adversarial against that kind of movement because I thought it was so totally unnecessary, disruptive and in fact, I thought it was very damaging to Richardson Preyor's campaign. You could be sure that the other crowd that Beverly Lake was running ran third to Dan Moore. And they, of course, were against us politically, so all of this came in the middle of a political campaign. But that didn't say that we shouldn't try to do something about it. Now Anne had become very good friends with Ralph Scott who is now dead, but he was Governor Kerr Scott's brother and probably an outstanding state senator of our time; just an excellent public servant, very forward looking. In fact, in my memory, years later they made him an honorary member of the Golden Fleece. I could be wrong about that. But anyway, the Chapel Hill people took to him even though he was a State graduate. And he and Anne and David Coltrane, who was an old Conservative in a way. . . . He had been director of the budget and he had a little bit of a feud with Kerr Scott and Kerr Scott fired him for supporting Umstead instead of his county. He was sort of a symbol of the Conservative wing, but I made him the Director of Administration and then they retired him with age. I knew he was a great Methodist labor, so I figured that I had just the right man to be head of the Good Neighbor Council because he had all the credentials from the conservative side and I thought I was touching the Methodist vein there when I put him in. So, he did a great job. We wanted to settle this thing over there. We wanted to get rid of it and wanted to calm it down because we had not really had these things that had gotten out of hand. We had handled the difficult ones a year earlier. But this was particularly difficult. I know that Anne had the confidence of all the people that were taking part in this. It wasn't just black students; it was really mostly Chapel Hill students that were doing the demonstrating. I know the CORE people were certainly doing their part to keep it stirred up. I never really completely understood that. But Anne more or less took charge of calming that down. And I know she and Coltrane and Scott and others sat up all night dealing and consulting and conferring. Finally, they arrested a great many of them and sentenced all of them, including a professor of religion at Duke. And I commuted all of those sentences, partially I'm sure, with Anne Queen's urging, to zero. I didn't pardon them because they had indeed committed the crimes for which they were convicted. But I did commute the sentences so they wouldn't go to jail. I just didn't want North Carolina to send a professor of religion to jail and I didn't think it was fair to send the students either. Some of them got to stay in jail a little while. John Ely's book The Free Men tells that story better than I can remember it. But anyhow, that's the way I first got to know Anne Queen well. I probably knew her before and her memory obviously, would be better than mine on that particular point. I'm sure I had met her before. And after I left office, I remember doing two or three things over at Chapel Hill. I had a project going I called the State of American States. We would hold conferences over there and we would completely bring together all the help we needed for whatever it was we were doing. It became so obvious to me then, the high regard the students had for her and the great influence that she had. And really, the considerable part that the Y played beyond what it played when I was there. I was a member of it when I was there, but it wasn't a force on campus. Anne Queen made it sort of the social conscience of the campus in a way that it had never been before and probably isn't now without Anne's presence. Maybe it is. Maybe she left enough of the tradition that it is. But I always thought that Anne carried forward the fundamental tradition of Chapel Hill that Frank Graham had established; and before him, Edward Kidder Graham and other people going on back to, I suppose, Cornelius Spencer. In any event, you know, there was a special spirit about Chapel Hill that said the status quo is not good enough. And that's always a risky social and political posture to take because most people are comfortable with the status quo unless they are bound down by it. And I think that better than anyone else, Anne Queen picked up Frank Graham's spirit. But she certainly wasn't there to be a part of what he had done for North Carolina and for Chapel Hill. But those of us that were, I think especially appreciated that here was somebody like her on campus. In a way, she was an unlikely somebody, this young woman from the mountains who was there in anything but a major administrative position and had made her job, her organization, the Y, and her presence such an important part of Chapel Hill. The University certainly needs an Anne Queen. It makes a tremendous difference. And then of course, my association with her in subsequent years was less dramatic.