Roots of the Speaker Ban controversy and role of the university in politics
Friday discusses the deeper historical roots of the Speaker Ban controversy of the 1960s, arguing that the tensions were linked to Frank Porter Graham's 1950 senatorial bid and the bitter tensions revolving around that campaign. From there, Friday moves to a discussion of his belief that the University, as a public institution, should play an important role in the political process, but that it should avoid becoming entangled in partisan disagreements.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, November 26, 1990. Interview L-0145. 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
- WILLIAM LINK:
How do you think this fit in to thisߞ1963 begins almost a
decade of rather intense [unclear]
conflict, that involved the University, beginning
withߞwell, before 1963, end of the fifties. Was it part of
that pattern, do you think?
- WILLIAM C. FRIDAY:
It all began with Dr. Graham's election. You've
got to go back there. The roots of all of this were planted right there.
Because that second primary got to be so violent, so intense, and so
full of hate, that it takes twenty-five years to dissipate that. And
that was a part of it, too. Don't discount that.
I'm as sure as that as I'm sitting here. Because I
was involved with it. And I think, well, two things have got to be said
here, Bill, one is: the University is a public body. It's
into things. And I always contended the University is the part of the
political process, but it's not in it as a partisan, and
never should be, and never should be thought to be. And
I've worked very hard to keep that out.
It's not Democratic. It's not Republican. But,
it's right in there helping the public decide what their
future should be. When you do those things, you create enemies. You
cause trouble. But, you shouldn't sit down in a chair, if you
don't understand that. Because you're going to get
hurt. Even when you do understand it, you get hurt. But, that was the
way I always figured it. Now, in all of that mix, you see. You had the
Graham campaign. You had the integration institution. You had the
Speaker Ban Law. We had the ruckus over the
[unclear] Extension Service under Luther Hodges. All these
nervousness issues out here. And it was, I think, a reflection of the
times, in the sense that the whole country was in turmoil. And when
those things happen that way, people get on edge. And they start looking
for a place to vent all of that. And when your a great big thing like
the University, taking all of this moneyߞyou know,
you've heard that a dozen times, I'm sure. Taking
it away from the schools. Taking it away from the prisons. Well, that
was because we had such a huge political race. People, they did a lot of
things sometimes, not because they loved us, but because they feared us.
Whatever it is, however our politicians minds work, I can't
worry about that. I have to be for what I felt was the best interests of
the Institution, and what that relates to being the best interest of the
State. And that's why we always took the tact we took. I
don't thinkߞin those years, I doubt that there was
a month that we didn't have some contingent, some crises. And
when all of them fellows got together, you got trouble. And I ran into a
rock wall. And I think every president has that experience before
he's out of office. Certainly in a public institution, they