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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, December 18, 1990. Interview L-0049. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Anne Queen's leadership qualities

Here, Friday explains why Anne Queen was such an effective leader on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Queen presided over the campus YWCA and merged YMCA-YWCA from the late 1950s into the 1970s. Friday recalls that students were especially receptive to Queen during this particularly tumultuous era because she was a good listener, they trusted her to put their interests first, and because she led by example.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, December 18, 1990. Interview L-0049. 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

CINDY CHEATHAM:
Can you comment a little bit on some specific incidents during the period of upheaval when you were President? Were you President during the sit-ins in the early 1960's? How did you see her role during desegregation, Speaker Ban, food worker's strike and Viet Nam?
WILLIAM C. FRIDAY:
On all those issues you knew where Anne Queen stood philosophically. You knew where she stood intellectually and most of all, where she stood spiritually. It was never a question there. All you were doing in working with Anne Queen was deciding how to get there, whether you had to work in the context of ninety days or twelve months or two years. And she learned and was wise in dealing with the very hard fact that a public university has so many forces it has to deal with, you see, unlike a private institution. The legislature, for example. Public opinion en masse. Political rights, political lefts, male/female arguments, abortion cases, all these kinds of things. You live in this cauldron of controversy. So, when I said she is a person of inner peace, you knew where she was going to be. You didn't have to debate that part of it at all. You just said, "Now, Anne, how can we move from A to B in your opinion as we go down the road together?" She was a marvelous person. One of her great skills was that she listens. You know, so many people want to spend all their time talking. Anne is a listener and you get along a lot faster when you develop that capacity, especially when you're dealing with human beings in a sensitive situation such as a university.
CINDY CHEATHAM:
Can you comment specifically on what you can remember about her role with the Chapel Hill human relations committee during the food worker's strike negotiations? Can you recall?
WILLIAM C. FRIDAY:
That's not something I know much about. I'd mislead you. But I know she was a force. There's no doubt about that.
CINDY CHEATHAM:
Why do you think Anne was so effective with the students, in particular, and also with the administration and in the community?
WILLIAM C. FRIDAY:
Everybody trusted her. You know, that's the key ingredient. Trust. And they knew that she loved them. These were her children. Anne played that role; not mother, but the listening post, confidante, counselor. All these words fit her and that's what she was.
CINDY CHEATHAM:
How do you believe that her unique background from the mountains contributed to the way that she dealt with young people and also, the administrators?
WILLIAM C. FRIDAY:
Have you ever known a mountain person that was impulsive? Never in your life. Most of them are deliberate people. They are careful people and they are people who know what adversity means. They use adversity to grow. That's an important point because a lot of people look for an excuse to quit trying and to quit doing. And as one old friend of mine around here said one day, he said, "You know, some people given a circumstance will grow in it. Others will swell up." You know, when they are given a chance to really lead. I don't think she ever entertained for a moment any thought of selfish gain in anything. Anne Queen never set out to be president. For anyone to even intimate that she would use a situation for personal aggrandizement is about as foreign as it can be. It's that sense that you had when you were in her presence. She was not manipulating things. She was not wheeling and dealing with another person's life. She was rock honest. Or as Chancellor House used to say about another person here, she was plain distressingly honest. [Laughter] I've always thought that was a great phrase.
CINDY CHEATHAM:
You talk about her inner peace. How is that translated and how did she show that inner peace and that spiritual side of her to her students?
WILLIAM C. FRIDAY:
Well, it was not a matter of wearing her religion on her sleeve. It was just that you knew that here was somebody who you could sit down with who would be as honest as they knew how to be, who would be as helpful as they knew how to be, who would be as encouraging, stimulating, and truthful. She'd tell you when you were wrong, but not in any mean way. That's my point. You don't find many people like this lady. But when you do, the tendency is to overwork them because you want to do so much. I don't know what Anne's stress points were, but my guess is that she had a tendency to do just that; to push herself to the extreme limit at times, wearing herself out in service. We all have our faults, we all have our ways of doing things that irritate some people. I hope not many. But that's just who we are. This is coming around to the other point about her. She accepted you as you are. She didn't try to remake you overnight. She didn't lecture you about anything that you were doing that she knew to be questionable. She would show you by example.