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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Floyd B. McKissick Sr., December 6, 1973. Interview A-0134. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Terry Sanford allows protests and seeks to maintain civility

McKissick reflects on former Governor Terry Sanford's legacy. Sanford was committed to improving education in the state, and he became the state's most prominent educator, shaping his citizens' attitudes not just with his statewide policies but also with his decisions to allow civil rights demonstrations to run their course without violence. It sounds like Sanford was concerned with maintaining civility during the protest era.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Floyd B. McKissick Sr., December 6, 1973. Interview A-0134. 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

JACK BASS:
Let me ask you one quick question. Getting back to North Carolina politics, what is your perception of the role of Terry Sanford in this state and how significant was his administration? During this twenty-five year period?
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
Well, I think he played a very significant role in North Carolina politics. I think that his role cannot be underestimated. You can see facts of what Terry Sanford has done in a number of ways. I knew him…
JACK BASS:
Can you give me a couple of examples?
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
I think the educational system. He concentrated on education and he's written a number of books, and he used education to permeate the whole political system. It just permeated the whole political system. To be fully aware of education. And you look at where North Carolina schools were when he came in and when he went out. See, he was a gifted man and he could meet and associate with anybody. He took strong stands when it was time for him to take strong stands. He took them and he made the movement. He was never a coward. If he told you he was going to do something, he did it. If he wasn't going to do something, he didn't do it. If you know him personally…he has rendered some assistance on this project, for example. Duke works with us in some ways on the Soul City project.
JACK BASS:
I think you said that he rasied the level of consciousness about education. Do you think that is one of the factors that resulted in overwhelming approval of this major bond issue this year? Did that lead to that, is there a sort of cause and affect relation?
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
Well, Terry Sanford, used, while he was governor, he became the teacher for North Carolina, in a sub-conscious way. He changed so durned many people's attitudes. In education, he became the teacher of attitudes in the state of North Carolina. He brought people together by his public statements and his remarks. I don't know whether many people realize just how effectively he could build attitudes so rapidly in this state by virute of his committment to education. And so many people…well, I'd say that when you talk about education, I think that he would have pretty near 98% of the people with him, that quoted him on educational issues and that same support would go in other areas whenever he needed it. When you say that it had an effect upon North Carolina, it has been a profound effect, even in the civil rights issue while the struggle was going on. We used to meet with him, have breakfast with him at the Mansion. He called me in and said, "Now, look, I'm not opposed to the demonstrations. I just don't want violence. You demonstrate all you want, just recognize your limits." I said, "Well, we are going to demonstrate." He said, "Well, I'm going to set up a Good Neighbor Council in this state." That was one of his first acts and Capus Waynick, I think, was the director of the Good Neighbor Council, from High Point, used to be his visible representative. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
He took a personal hand in seeing that the Good Neighbor Council got off the board, it was not a…it was called Good Neighbor Council because that was probably the best name that it could be called in the state of North Carolina at that time without being a radical. But it was serving as a civil rights banner and then it also served to bring, I think at one time we were in Goldsboro and the Klu Klux Klan was meeting us on the street in a head on battle and we weren't going to move out of the streets and the Klu Klux Klan wasn't going to move out of the streets and he notified the highway patrol and he told them to exercise due caution. He wouldn't let the local police move out of hand if a demonstration was occurring. I talked to him one time and I said, "A demonstration has got to run its course. The best thing to do is to let it run its course." We agreed upon that. I think that the attitude exhibited and Terry Sanford's actions would put him, certainly in my mind, as one of the very best governors that North Carolina has ever had.