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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, November 26, 1990. Interview L-0145. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Roots of the Speaker Ban controversy and role of the university in politics

Friday discusses the deeper historical roots of the Speaker Ban controversy of the 1960s, arguing that the tensions were linked to Frank Porter Graham's 1950 senatorial bid and the bitter tensions revolving around that campaign. From there, Friday moves to a discussion of his belief that the University, as a public institution, should play an important role in the political process, but that it should avoid becoming entangled in partisan disagreements.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, November 26, 1990. Interview L-0145. 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.

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How do you think this fit in to thisߞ1963 begins almost a decade of rather intense [unclear] conflict, that involved the University, beginning withߞwell, before 1963, end of the fifties. Was it part of that pattern, do you think?
It all began with Dr. Graham's election. You've got to go back there. The roots of all of this were planted right there. Because that second primary got to be so violent, so intense, and so full of hate, that it takes twenty-five years to dissipate that. And that was a part of it, too. Don't discount that. I'm as sure as that as I'm sitting here. Because I was involved with it. And I think, well, two things have got to be said here, Bill, one is: the University is a public body. It's into things. And I always contended the University is the part of the political process, but it's not in it as a partisan, and never should be, and never should be thought to be. And I've worked very hard to keep that out. It's not Democratic. It's not Republican. But, it's right in there helping the public decide what their future should be. When you do those things, you create enemies. You cause trouble. But, you shouldn't sit down in a chair, if you don't understand that. Because you're going to get hurt. Even when you do understand it, you get hurt. But, that was the way I always figured it. Now, in all of that mix, you see. You had the Graham campaign. You had the integration institution. You had the Speaker Ban Law. We had the ruckus over the [unclear] Extension Service under Luther Hodges. All these nervousness issues out here. And it was, I think, a reflection of the times, in the sense that the whole country was in turmoil. And when those things happen that way, people get on edge. And they start looking for a place to vent all of that. And when your a great big thing like the University, taking all of this moneyߞyou know, you've heard that a dozen times, I'm sure. Taking it away from the schools. Taking it away from the prisons. Well, that was because we had such a huge political race. People, they did a lot of things sometimes, not because they loved us, but because they feared us. Whatever it is, however our politicians minds work, I can't worry about that. I have to be for what I felt was the best interests of the Institution, and what that relates to being the best interest of the State. And that's why we always took the tact we took. I don't thinkߞin those years, I doubt that there was a month that we didn't have some contingent, some crises. And when all of them fellows got together, you got trouble. And I ran into a rock wall. And I think every president has that experience before he's out of office. Certainly in a public institution, they do.