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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, April 30, 1976. Interview G-0049-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Thoughts on North Carolina's political reputation

Queen offers her thoughts on the reputation of North Carolina as a "progressive" southern state in contrast to statistics that demonstrate its more conservative leanings. According to Queen, North Carolina did indeed have a more conservative political history. As evidence she cites the state's efforts to block the organization of labor. Because of her work at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, however, Queen also asserts that universities often offered a place for the exercise of, and demand for, freedom. For Queen, the Speaker Ban days of the 1960s were especially illustrative of the tensions between progressive and conservative politics within the state.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, April 30, 1976. Interview G-0049-1. 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

JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
There is a general interpretation of North Carolina as the most progressive of the Southern states. V.O. Key in his book on Southern politics stresses this progressiveness. More recently, there has been some question of how progressive North Carolina really is. There has been publication of statistics showing that wages for organized labor engaged in manufacturing in North Carolina ranks fiftieth and there is some question of how progressive we are. I wondered if you could give your thoughts on it?
ANNE QUEEN:
Well, I'll leave that to you historians to be the final judges, but I really think that one of the tragedies of this state and of the South is the efforts that have been made to block the organization of labor. You know, of course, that I love this state and my roots are very deep here. I think that we have to be very careful about any kind of sentimental judgements about the progressiveness of the state. I believe that this judgement is made partly because of the kind of the press we've had and the issues that the press has dealt with in times of crisis and because of the influence of Frank Graham and other people, most of whom were his associates in the South. I really do think, and this is no lack of appreciation on my part for the state, that North Carolina has often times been applauded unjustifiably in terms of how progressive it is. I do think that the University still is the place, if they exercise this freedom, have been and are free to move in exercising all the rights of freedom that we have. I remember during the sixties I made that statement about freedom to John Dunn and to Quintin Baker and Pat Casick, and they challenged that. But at the same time, I feel that there was no other community in the state where they would be as free, or in another southern state. I don't think that the possibilities for freedom that have always existed have always been exercised. I learned this from McLeod Bryan, of whom I spoke earlier, that the only way to perserve freedom is to exercise it; and I think there have been moments when people have not exercised the freedom that this state had the potential for. One of the great moments of exercising this freedom was during the Speaker Ban days and I don't have time …I know our time is about up, but to me, this was one of the great moments in the history of the University. One of the saddest and at the same time the greatest.