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Oral History Interview with W. Horace Carter, January 17, 1976. Interview B-0035. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Walter Horace Carter grew up in Stanley County, North Carolina, during the 1920s and 1930s. He moved to Chapel Hill to earn a degree in journalism at the University of North Carolina, the pursuit of which was interrupted by his service in the Navy during World War II. In 1947, Carter became the secretary of the Tabor City Merchant's Association and moved to Tabor City, North Carolina, with his young family. Following a brief sojourn in Chapel Hill, where he helped establish the Colonial Press (which printed the UNC newspaper The Daily Tar Heel), Carter officially settled in Tabor City, becoming publisher and editor of the newly-created Tabor City Tribune. Shortly after the weekly newspaper debuted, the Ku Klux Klan began a virulent recruitment campaign in Columbus County, North Carolina, and in surrounding areas along the North Carolina-South Carolina border. The interview with Carter focuses almost exclusively on the actions of the Klan from 1950 to 1952—when members of the Klan were convicted for flogging numerous people—and on Carter's journalistic campaign against their efforts. Carter describes in detail how the Klan campaign began during the summer of 1950 when they brought a motorcade through Tabor City with the intention of recruiting new members and intimidating African American neighborhoods. That summer, Grand Dragon Thomas L. Hamilton gave speeches around the area to recruit members and to outline the goals of the Klan. Carter stresses that the Klan during those years was not only outspoken in its opposition to African Americans, but that they also opposed Jews and Catholics, liberals such as Frank Porter Graham, and the newly formed United Nations. Carter explains that many people found various aspects of the Klan's message—including its anticommunist stance—appealing. In response to the Klan's vigilante tactics, Carter publicly attacked the Klan in weekly columns for the Tabor City Tribune and worked closely with others fighting the Klan, including Columbus County Sheriff H. Hugh Nance, fellow newspaper editor Willard Cole of the Whiteville, North Carolina, News Reporter, and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). Carter also spends considerable time enumerating the nature of threats, both economic and physical, he received from the Klan, his interactions with Klan leaders such as Grand Dragon Hamilton and Early Brooks, and connections between the Klan and local law enforcement, such as Horry County, South Carolina, Sheriff Ernest Sasser. In 1953, Carter and Cole were both awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their role in bringing to justice Klan members guilty of flogging. The interview concludes with Carter offering his thoughts on various social issues confronting the nation at the time of the interview in 1976, touching on such topics as school integration and busing, economic problems, the Equal Rights Amendment, and patriotism.
    Excerpts
  • Klan motorcade and recruitment efforts in the summer of 1950
  • Threats from the Ku Klux Klan and their immediate impact
  • Local citizens' reactions to the Klan and its connections to law enforcement
  • Local network of opponents to the Ku Klux Klan
  • Integrating African Americans into the local newspaper
  • Opposition to the vigilante tactics of the Klan
  • Reaction to receiving the Pulitzer Prize
  • Reaction to integration and opposition to school busing
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  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.