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Title: Oral History Interview with Raymond Dawson, February 4, 1991. Interview L-0133. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Dawson, Raymond, interviewee
Interview conducted by Link, William
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
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Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Raymond Dawson, February 4, 1991. Interview L-0133. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0133)
Author: William Link
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Raymond Dawson, February 4, 1991. Interview L-0133. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0133)
Author: Raymond Dawson
Description: 85.0 Mb
Description: 8 p.
Note: Interview conducted on February 4, 1991, by William Link; recorded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Karen Brady-Hill and Jane Burgess.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series L. University of North Carolina, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Raymond Dawson, February 4, 1991.
Interview L-0133. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Dawson, Raymond, interviewee

Interview Participants

    RAYMOND DAWSON, interviewee
    WILLIAM LINK, interviewer


Page 1
Let's start just by talking about the background of the case. And maybe if you can recall the first time that it began to occupy your time and your attention. Must have been pretty much from the beginning of your—of when you came as Vice-President here?
Yeah. The ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit on this, on the Adams case, came I believe in the spring of 1972. Just as we were getting restructured and reorganized. So when I came out here in, started coming out here in June and July of '72, that was one of the issues. Now the University had had some correspondence with the Office for Civil Rights that I remembered over the preceding two or three years off and on. But it obviously, the whole issue took a new focus and new direction in '72 when, when the DC Court made that ruling. During the next, I would say, year, year and a half, I was not very closely involved in that. It was handled mostly by the Vice-President for Planning, who was then Cameron West. The Office for Civil Rights was working, trying to develop guidelines, so things were not moving with blinding speed, as I recall. But we were put on notice that we had to develop a plan, and we discussed it at staff meetings from time to time, very frequently in fact, and Dr. West was doing most of the drafting. He left to accept an appointment in Illinois. I guess that must have been sometime along in 1973. And John Sanders became Vice-President for Planning. And he picked up a major responsibility for the development of a plan. I can't recall if it was before or after Cameron West left and John Sanders came that HEW raised questions and objections about the first plan that we put forward. And so John Sanders, working with Dick Robinson and a sub-committee of the—or a special committee, I guess it was, of the Board of Governors—went to work on doing the work for the preparation of another plan. That was the so-called revised state plan that was finally approved by HEW in June of 1974. If you will note, this was running parallel in time to the great debate over medical education, and I found a large part of my time absorbed in that, and in some other legislative and other matters. But during 1974 I remember getting much more closely involved, and I recall that at some point during that year I went with President Friday and Mr. Sanders and Dick Robinson and maybe one or two others, to one meeting in Washington with the director of the Office of Civil Rights, who was then Peter Holmes and his staff to talk about our plan and to get their comments as to how we could get it in shape for them to approve it. And then they did approve it; it was finally approved in June of '74. By that time the issue was beginning to get sort of right in the center of everything, working out some kind of accommodation with HEW. It subsided a little when they accepted the plan in June of '74, though then we had to get some machinery put in place to start making annual reports and to get regular reporting cycles and processes designed. [pause] Let me stop there. You're getting ready to ask me a question.
I was just going to ask you about Peter Holmes, the Director of OCR. I was wondering if you could just give me a little bit more detail about what sort of person he was to work with, how he negotiated, how —
Holmes was a very quiet and, overall, seemed to me a very reasonable person. We—I remember it at that meeting up there, he was raising some questions about our plans and, and he and President Friday had a very amicable exchange about—it seemed to me Mr. Holmes accepted pretty clearly that we wanted to work to the same purpose they wanted to work toward. We wanted to promote the racial integration of our campuses, we didn't want to be in a position where there was any discrimination against blacks in the University system. And, see, their initial guidelines that we were working

Page 2
under pretty much at that time, I guess, they were issued in November of 1973, put a very heavy emphasis upon increasing the enrollment of white students at the historical black campuses. There was very heavy emphasis on that. So my recollection was that, in the brief period of time we worked with Peter Holmes, that we generally found him a person with whom we felt we could work. He left, however, not long after our plan was accepted. I don't recall the exact time. But I can't—I don't recall all of the chronology of this, Bill. Some of it you can get out of A. K. Kings book.
But the next big step was—again, I'm not sure of the chronology—the next big steps were these. There came to be a debate on the Vet School. Then there came to be a lot of pressure on the Office for Civil Rights and HEW to reject not only our plan, but everybody's plan. This seemed to have been occasioned by a motion filed by the Legal Defense Fund, the LDF, in the same U.S. District Court in Washington. See, the case was up there, and it's important to remember through all the discussion that we were not parties to the lawsuit. This was a lawsuit brought by Adams, et. al., supported by the LDF, against the United States government for not enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act in ten Southern states which had historically had de jure segregation in public as well as elementary and secondary—in higher as well as in elementary and secondary education. So the suit was against the Federal government itself to force them to enforce the law. And the LDF attempting to tell them exactly how it ought to be enforced. And not all the states, not all the southern states were named; it was a curious kind of mixture. Maryland was named. Virginia was named. North Carolina was named. Not South Carolina. They were not named. Georgia was named. Florida. Alabama was not. Mississippi and Louisiana were not. Texas was not. Arkansas was. Oklahoma was. I believe West Virginia was, in the initial thing.
Was there any logic to that?
The logic was, in the case of Louisiana and Mississippi those two states simply refused to submit plans. They, as I recall, they said, in effect, "We're not in violation of the law. If you think we are, sue us." And so the Federal Government initiated separate legal action against them. Mississippi's case is still going through the courts. And the Louisiana case, I guess, was settled with a consent decree after ours, and I think it's back in the courts. So those two cases are still going on. I was reading something today about the Mississippi case. The Justice Department has filed another motion in the Mississippi case this past week. South Carolina and Alabama were just out on political grounds. I mean, this was the early days of the Nixon administration, and I don't think there's any question that George Wallace and Strom Thurmond, you know, had some muscle to pull in the Republican party and they were simply not named. And Texas, I think, was the same explanation. Tennessee was under separate litigation, so that was straightforward. So anyway, we were among the main states.
Just to get this straight, the suit went against the government, went against the Federal government. The Federal Government then named the states that were requesting plans?
Right. The suit named the states in a very careful selection, interesting selection of states.
This selection occurred on the part of the HEW, then?
Well, on the part of the LDF.

Page 3
Yes, in consultation with them.
The essence of a lawsuit is, of course, that there really be a case in controversy. And as time went on, it was not at all clear that it was really a controversy between the LDF as the plaintiffs and HEW as the defendant. And this began to show during '75, I think it was, when the LDF went into court and filed this motion to order the court to overrule HEW and declare all these plans invalid. At about that juncture a man named Martin Gerry—G-E-R-R-Y—became the Director of the Office of Civil Rights. We read the ruling, we read the LDF motion in the Adams case, trying to get all these suits declared—these plans declared unacceptable. The Board of Governors even debated for a time whether we should intervene in the suit because it was a very sweeping brief that the LDF filed. It made no distinctions whatsoever, between public and elementary and secondary education. Higher education and elementary and secondary. It seemed oblivious to all that. It called for some highly punitive measures against the states, and for the first time clearly surfaced the proposition that in the case of public higher education, where you do not have mandatory attendance and you do not have assignment for schools—pupil assignment plans—that you do have as a mechanical device to move students around, the assignment of programs. And that figured pretty prominently in that first LDF brief in '75, saying that, you know, if you move programs, you can tell students to move with them, and that's the way you mix up the institutions. It quoted at one point the Swann decision, the Charlotte case, Charlotte-Mecklenburg case, which said that, "What our goal has to be is no black schools and no white schools, but just schools." Now the people who were really alarmed by that brief was the organization called NAFEO—N-A-F-E-O. That's the acronym. National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. Now NAFEO is an association of black colleges. That's their group. Public and private. 512 of them. They saw this as a threat to the historical identity of the black college. They filed a motion, a counter-motion in the court against this and said that since they had been themselves —that is the institutions—had been themselves the victim of discrimination and segregation, that they should not be singled out as a part of the remedy. And so their position was that, you know, that they were in full compliance with the law and that insofar as the make up of their student bodies were concerned, they had always been open to all. The fact that they were, were of a clearly racial identifiability was because of the law of the oppressors. And so the dire consequences ought to fall on the oppressors and that what should be done as a remedy was to build up and strengthen the black institutions. Now, as I say, our board talked about, "Should we intervene in the Adams Case?" And wisely said, "No." Said, "We do not want to put ourselves under jurisdiction of a Federal court up in Washington, D.C."
And in the meantime, as I say, came the Vet School this year. The question came well, why not put the Vet School at A&T? And when the—let's see, the School of Veterinary Medicine had been authorized just before restructuring. The old Board of Trustees and the University under Governor Scott had gone on record, you know, we going to develop the Veterinary School, and establish the Department of Veterinary Science at N.C. State. And then, you know, we did a study about the Vet School, and then the decision was to locate it at State. And then came the proposal, "Well, let's locate it at North Carolina A&T." So along in, this would have been late '74, I guess, or maybe early '75, at a meeting of the Board of Governors, the director of the Atlanta Regional Office of the Office for Civil Rights, a Mr. William Thomas, just appeared at the Board meeting and asked to be heard on the issue of the location of the Vet School. It was an interesting kind of thing, because in the meantime, see, we were in the process of having to develop the medical school at East Carolina. And I remember one member of the Board of Governors asked him, said, "Well you, you've expressed all this interest in the location of the Vet

Page 4
School. What about the location of the Medical School? Are you interested in asking us to consider whether the new medical school should be at a historically black campus?" He said, "No, I'm not interested in that." He said, "I consider that a done deal," or words to that effect, "and I'm not going to get involved in that."
How did Thomas get into this, do you think? Where was he —
Well, the, oh, it's clear that the Chancellor of the folks over at A&T were prompted to put in a petition for the Vet School.
Prompted by?
By LDF. And there was a very, there were some very active organizations in those days. Now I would remind you that on the Board of Governors was one of the principal officers of the LDF, Julius Chambers. See, Julius was on the Board of Governors.
He was still on at that point?
He stayed on the Board until 1977. Then there was an organization called the—what was it called? The Coalition of Alumni and Friends. Does that ring a bell?
Black alumni group?
Black alumni group. They were very active. And so there were a lot of people participating in this, and they all had direct pipelines into LDF, which in turn, had direct pipelines into OCR.
They were feeding each other information?
And they weren't going to get involved in the medical school fight, because they knew they would get the hell beat out of them. And they weren't about to lie down in front of a locomotive. Because, you know, the Democratic party has the Board of Governors and everybody else—you couldn't deal with that. You know, that train left the station long ago. But the Vet School—they decided to see if they could derail that. The hook that they finally found in the course of that discussion, was Thomas pointed out that the Board of Governors in this June, 1974 plan, had committed itself to do a racial impact study in connection with the location of any new program. We had not done one since our frame of reference had been the old trustee resolution which initially looked toward the establishment of the Vet School. And so those gentlemen nodded, "All right. We ought to do a racial impact study." So the Board postponed any action, and we did a racial impact study. That meeting must have been along like September 1974, something of that nature. We came back in another month or two with a racial impact study, excuse me, which I guess John Sanders did. And we looked at the program at N.C. State.
As I understand this Vet School, the original idea of the Vet School, was unusual in University decision making and governance in the sense that it came from outside groups rather than being generated from within.
I'm not sure that that would be so unusual in itself, but not entirely. You see, its biggest proponent was the Governor, who was chairman of the Board of Trustees, see, under the old structure. And the old Board of Higher Education had done a study. It had a lot of things going for it. We probably —you might talk to someone, well, President Friday or Felix Joyner and

Page 5
some of them who were here in the General Administration. I was up in the South Building at that time and had no involvement with the Vet School. They'd have a better picture on this than I, but my reading of it, Bill, would be that, that the whole Vet School thing would have been resolved sooner than it had been if we, if it hadn't been for restructuring, because clearly Governor Scott had a clear interest in it. He had a lot of support from the N.C. State people. There was a big movement behind it. I think the restructuring debate just sort of put it on hold. And then as soon as that was done, it was picked up again. And as I say, that was kind of the frame of reference in which everyone was acting. But we acknowledged that we—we had to do this racial impact statement and did one. And came down with the decision, the recommendation that we would leave it at N.C. State.
Do you think —
That would have been late '74 or early '75, because then we filed a supplemental budget request for the Vet School, you remember, for the '75 session of the General Assembly. And just about that time, see, you had the Vet School controversy and a lot of stirring on going about our plan and then came that LDF brief and the reaction of NAFEO to that. And then HEW sort of fell on us. [pause] We did not file by the due date of December 31, 1974, or whenever it was—our first semi-annual report on our desegregation plan. We were still trying to design the reporting system. I would just observe in passing, Bill, that the first year for which we collected data on enrollments by race in all sixteen public senior institutions in North Carolina was 1972. Now we had some episodic data from back in the '60s, but in the late 1960's, or very early in 1970, when I was Dean of Arts and Sciences at Chapel Hill, in which capacity I also served as chairman of the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Admissions. So Dean of Arts and Sciences does a lot of admissions work. We were then ordered by HEW at some point during my four year tenure up there as Dean that we could not ask the person's race on their application for admission. See, we went through that period when we couldn't acknowledge race, and then they turn right around and said, "Well, you've got to tell us how many black people applied," and so forth and so on. So there was a lot of confusion, but my point was, we had a real job getting some kind of a reporting system in place. And remember we were dealing with a system where we had no record of relationships and things with the five historically black campuses or with all the old regional universities. We were still going through a period of sort of consolidation of a new structure. And so we were late. Not surprising. And it doesn't amount to a hill of beans anyway, but they picked up on that and wrote a, just a, early in the spring, or late in the spring, I guess it was. It was 1975. Just wrote a blistering letter to President Friday about all the things we were doing wrong or not doing, citing mostly to the Vet School. The fact that we were late to file our report. They were meanwhile putting a lot of pressure to bear on the Office of Civil Rights to repudiate these plans it had administratively accepted. And finally HEW just folded, as a matter of fact. Now that's my word, and that's the way I would characterize it, but we knew they were working on them, and you can look up the dates in some of that other material, but at some point HEW just informed us our plan was no longer accepted and informed all the other states the same thing, that their plans were no longer accepted. Didn't say why. Didn't say, you know, "This is the reason." It just said, "They're no good. They're not working. So your plan is no longer acceptable." In the meantime, there was one other big debate that we had on this issue. It was in that 1974 plan. We agreed to do a study of the five historically black institutions, particularly looking at their comparative levels of financial support by the state and any other thing that seemed to be wrong. And we got that, we finished

Page 6
that comparative study along in 1975, I guess, and filed that [unclear] and that was a focus of a great deal of debate and discussion [unclear] . Well, all of which is to say that, obviously, by the latter part of '74 on into '75 this was becoming kind of an overriding issue with virtually everything that we were doing. And we found it very difficult to communicate with the officers of the OCR office. And this was of very great and real concern to President Friday. And as to how we could reach some kind of understanding and accommodation with them. We were not looking for a fight. And when we tried to keep up this theme that "What HEW says it wants is what we want, and we hope that we can find some way to accomplish our common purpose that we can both come to accept, that is, as to the way we come about it." But that was getting harder and harder to communicate with them during '75, and then finally they just repudiated the plans. And so we—had nothing to do but to wait and see what kind of ruling we got from them.
By then, we were hot into the elections of 1976 and Mr. Carter won and appointed Joe Califano as his Secretary of Education. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Secretary of HEW. And a new director at the Office for Civil Rights took over, David Tatel. And we sort of, you know, stood by him, waited to see what was going to happen. President Friday knew Joe Califano. Had known him for a long time. They'd worked together during the Johnson years when President Friday was on the White House Fellows Commission. And, in fact, I remember in 1970, when I was Dean, President Friday did us the favor of getting Joe Califano to come down here and give a speech over in Hill Hall one night. Califano was at that time one of the key people working with that commission designed to reform the Democratic party, and that was the subject of his lecture that night. And I remember I had to find some ashtrays to put up on the podium of Hill Hall because Joe was quite a smoker in those days. Anyhow, we hoped that we would have some reasonable people with whom we could establish a sound working relationship to do what needed to be done. We now know, and found out shortly after, during the course of our law suit that Califano appointed a commission and they went to work to rewrite the guidelines that had been issued back in November of '73, and made a conscious decision not to consult with any of the universities or states about those. They were to be developed in secret. But along in the—I guess the late winter or early spring of 1977, President Friday was contacted and said that Mr. Califano's special assistant—No. His counsel, the counsel for HEW. HEW's General Counsel, Mr. Peter Libassi, and his aide, who was David Breneman, wanted to visit with us. Libassi was a very prominent attorney. David Breneman was—I guess Dave was an economist on the staff out at the Brookings Institution in Washington. And later he became president of, I can't think of the private college in Michigan, and I think is still a college president. But they were Mr. Califano's emissaries who were going to come and talk to us about we assumed, what we were going to be called on to do. Because we knew we were sitting here with, you know, with a rejected plan, and we knew HEW was under a court order. It had to do something. And so that was the first word that we had that they would be coming to visit us. Now I remember they came, they arrived on a Sunday, and so we had a long session in that conference room right around the corner. The president invited the Chairman of the Board of Governors, who was Mr. William A. Johnson. Judge Johnson. He was present. I was there. Felix Joyner was there. Dick Robinson was there. Cleon Thompson was there. That's probably pretty much the meeting—then Libassi and Breneman. Libassi had a tablet on his lap, and he would speak from that tablet. And that clearly was a draft, a working draft of what came to be known as the Criteria, which was, you know, the new guidelines. But they were going to issue them as—they were called Criteria—gosh, I never tought I would forget the full name. Let's see, here. [Pause to look for information] You ought to go through our state plans and consent decree at some juncture, and then all these dates. You ought to go, you ought to really go through these. Let's see here.

Page 7
Yeah. The full title is Criteria Specifying the Ingredients of Acceptable Plans to Desegregate State Systems of Public Higher Education. And that's what he was working off of. He raised, you know, a lot of, a lot of good questions. It was a good discussion. But it was clear that the focus now was on increasing black participation and increasing black presence at the historically White campuses. There was very little said about white presence at the historically black campuses. That was just not on their minds. But they made it clear that there were going to be some standards set for us to meet in these other two areas. And it looked like, it sounded as though they were going to be very severe standards and very difficult to meet. They stayed over. I think we—I believe we met a while that following morning, Monday morning, and then they left. And we heard nothing more. We now know, and the Criteria came to reflect this, that the federal government had something of a dilemna on its hands. The LDF brief, back in early 1975, quoted with approval the dictum of Swann versus Mecklenburg. "No black schools, no white schools, just schools." That's not what the black institutions wanted. And then, see, after that it became clear in those discussions with Libassi and Breneman, and then it became clear to us in the Criteria, that there were really sort of two flags here that one could march under. And they were not necessarily in competition with one another in all senses, but they also were, in a way, fundamentally competitive. One was integration. The other was preservation of the black colleges. Because, you see, we were declared to be in violation of the Civil Rights Act. I guess the Fourteenth Amendment was thrown in, for good measure. Because we were operating a racially dual system of public higher education, and that racial duality was always documented by the fact that we had five institutions whose student bodies were overwhelmingly black, and eleven institutions whose student bodies were overwhelmingly white. Now was the idea to get a racial balance reflecting the whole population on all sixteen, or what? And so these goals, you know, finally can, can become right on. And we found the Federal Government had two flags that it would march under from time to time as circumstances warranted. One of them was integrate. The other was to develop the black institutions. We had no issue with them, in a real sense, over the development of the black institutions. But our problem was that we were, you know, told we were in violation of the law, and we never could get any kind of a guide or standard out of them and what would be the characteristics of a unitary system? "If ours is racially dual, tell us what it is we have to be not to be racially dual?" And that's the question we could never get the answer for except we were simply told, "Well, do what we tell you to do and we'll let you know." Now this was a—I cannot overemphasize, Bill, this was 1976-77, but I cannot overemphasize to you how difficult our predicament was. Every one involved in this on the University side had been a proponent of the civil rights movement. We had all been proponents of integration of the University. And some of us had had an active role, for example, in working to increase black enrollment at Chapel Hill and elsewhere. Just the symbolism of being in conflict with or at odds with the civil rights establishment was painful. Because while there were still some quarters who would give you high marks for just being in opposition to the Office for Civil Rights, those were not generally the quarters that we looked to as the people with whom we liked to compare ourselves, starting with our faculties. Because faculty members, you know, assume that the civil rights establishment is right, and, again, this was not long after the height of the movement in the '60s. So then, what was wrong with us? What is it we're doing wrong? And this was very difficult for the President, because we knew what it finally came down to, is that we were being asked to do things which were unreasonable and detrimental to the University and destructive, we believed, to the purposes that we thought we should be working toward. But we were being told that by people and offices and organizations who were identified automatically as the champions of civil rights. And so it was a hard thing to

Page 8
think through is, "Do we want to take on the civil rights establishment? Is there—isn't there some way to live with them at peace?" I—we get our fix where we're their enemy. Now Libassi was very candid about this in a conversation with President Friday. He told him that he should understand that among the powers up in Washington, who were—I'm sure he was referring to the LDF and the folks running the Office of Civil Rights—that they had singled out the University of North Carolina. Their feeling was if they could break the University of North Carolina, they could get anyone. Now that's what we were told. And everything that happened from 1976 onward tended to bring out that we were being set aside as a special case.
That specifically came from Libassi?
Libassi acknowledged that. Privately, to Friday.
He acknowledged that? To Friday?
He acknowledged it. Now on the one hand there was good reason to single us out because more than any state, North Carolina had a racially dual system. We had five historically black public campuses. Virginia had two. South Carolina had one. Georgia had three. Florida had one. You get my point. I mean, this state came closer than any one in constructing really a dual system. So it was kind of logical in a way. But then the other thing they knew was, here was the most prestigious state university in the South, with the possible exception of Texas, but Texas wasn't even a party to the suit. You see, Chapel Hill had a unique place—At that time there was no member of the AAU except Chapel Hill between Charlottesville and Austin. And then there was the fact that it was Chapel Hill. So that's where we were, and that was kind of the horns of the dilemma upon which we found ourselves. The criteria were finally presented to us in July.
And in fact, they were delivered to President Friday by special delivery or Federal Express, or something like that, but they were delivered to his home on July 4, 1977. Califano had it sent down to him. Califano professed to be very proud of them—something we can all live with and find our way through. President Friday got them, called me. I remember Felix and I met out here. Cleon Thompson. Felix and I went down to the copy machine and made a copy for all of us, and we went off to study them, and we began the meeting on it the next day. And a number of things in it promptly caught our eyes. There were some standards in there, and—oh, and John Sanders was involved in all this, too. So we had our marching orders in one sense in these Criteria. Now, could we pick up there at another time?
I apologize.