Title: Oral History Interview with Julius L. Chambers, June 18, 1990. Interview L-0127.
Interviewer: Link, William
Interviewee: Chambers, Julius L.
Abstract: Julius Chambers discusses his involvement with the University of North Carolina's Board of Governors from 1972 to 1977 as a representative of his alma mater, North Carolina Central University. He explains that smaller North Carolina colleges and universities and traditionally underrepresented groups found a voice in post-secondary school decisions during this period. During this period, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) established a set of criteria for the desegregation of higher education institutions. While he felt the North Carolina college system had not complied with the court order to eliminate the inequalities of segregated schools, other board officials believed UNC had done enough and wanted the federal government to disengage itself from North Carolina affairs. Although university president William Friday also argued that the state's higher education system complied with the desegregation orders, Chambers favorably assesses Friday's leadership as UNC president and Board of Governors member. He contends that Friday built a consensus among board members on a middle-of-the-road political position. Nonetheless, because North Carolina delayed making meaningful changes in the desegregation of its post-secondary schools, HEW filed a desegregation lawsuit against UNC. The later reluctance of the Nixon and Ford administrations to support school desegregation and the endorsement of the Carter administration furthered the Office for Civil Rights' resolve to enforce the desegregation of North Carolina post-secondary schools. Chambers blames the retreat from desegregation initiatives on a conservative resurgence and on North Carolina's desire to end the ongoing debate on race in higher education.