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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, November 22, 1976. Interview G-0049-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Role of the SSOC and the SDS at UNC

Queen discusses campus political organizations at the University of North Carolina during her tenure as director of the YWCA-YMCA (1956-1975). In particular, Queen describes how the Southern Student Organizing Committee and the Students for Democratic Society were both important groups on campus. She goes on to discuss how these campus organizations interacted with the community.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, November 22, 1976. Interview G-0049-2. 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:
How about the Southern Student Organizing Committee, SSOC?
ANNE QUEEN:
I know some of the people in the regionwide organization. Of course, you know SSOC was very much involved in the cafeteria workers' strike here. SSOC, for the most part, was all white students.
JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
I think that it was designed to be a kind of parallel organization for SNCC.
ANNE QUEEN:
Parallel to SNCC, that's right. I thought there were some pretty naive people in that, but there were also some people who were real dedicated. One of the people who's still in Chapel Hill and who was involved with SSOC was Scott Bradley. I have tremendous respect for Scott. And I think Scott came here as a very idealistic young man. He had been influenced by Bill Coffin at Exeter, I believe; he had gone to one of the New England prep schools. And he'd come here very idealistic, and I think he found this as a channel through which he could express his concern. And I think one of the tragedies of some of these left-wing groups is that the people who became hysterical or near-hysterical in their fear of these groups really intensified the radicalism. Do you feel that that may have been true, that the more they fought the freedom of these groups the more radical the groups became. And especially the young ones, because of their sort of rebellion against this hysterical fear.
JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
I remember being at a dinner party—I don't remember the exact date of it—but there were some older citizens of Chapel Hill present. And they were talking about the threat they perceived in giving the vote to eighteen- to twenty-year-olders. And this was the time when Nyle Frank was active in Chapel Hill, with his little organization with his little newsletter. And they actually seriously were discussing the possibility of Nyle Frank being elected Mayor of Chapel Hill. I still don't know what to say to people like that.
ANNE QUEEN:
Well, I don't know what to say to them, either, because they're living in such an unreal world. I happened to like Nyle Frank very well, but I just didn't conceive [laughter] that he'd ever be elected Mayor of Chapel Hill. I find him sort of refreshing, in a way. Another organization—and it came along, and it's related to one of the issues that I think was one of the most crucial issues for the University during the sixties—was the Students for a Democratic Society. And of course this was organized before the Speaker Ban Law was passed. And in some ways the Speaker Ban Law, I think, was directed at SDS. SDS had more members; it had a larger number of people who were active in it than the New Left or the Progressive Labor Club. I don't know whether it had more than SSOC or not.
JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
Are you talking now of fifty people?
ANNE QUEEN:
You know, I can't tell you how many, but I think there were more.
JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
Even more than fifty, perhaps.
ANNE QUEEN:
It may have been. I don't know. No, the Speaker Ban Law was not directed against them, because they're the ones who attempted to test it. And I do believe that, had it not been for the insight and the commitment of some of the leaders in student government, that we might not have been able to get the speaker ban issue resolved as soon as we did. Because some of the leaders in SDS, I think, were more committed to confrontation than they were to resolving the speaker ban.