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Oral history interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, April 5, 1991

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Creator:Pollitt, Daniel H.
Creator:McColl, Ann
Creator:Southern Oral History Program
Title:Oral history interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, April 5, 1991
Date:1991 Apr. 5

This is the seventh interview in a nine-part series of interviews with civil liberties lawyer Daniel H. Pollitt. In this interview, Pollitt focuses on the Speaker Ban controversy as it unfolded on the campus of the University of North Carolina during the mid-1960s. According to Pollitt, conservative state legislators enacted the Speaker Ban because they opposed the wave of student activism at the University of North Carolina during the early 1960s. Pollitt explains that he saw it as a campaign of anti-intellectualism. After outlining how the Speaker Ban was passed by the General Assembly on the sly during the last day of the 1963 legislative session, Pollitt explains the reaction of UNC President William Friday and UNC Chancellor William Aycock. Opposition to the Speaker Ban was widespread on campus, and Pollitt, as a member of the American Association of University Professors, bided his time until the next legislative session of 1965 by monitoring the enforcement of the ban and speaking out against it. Pollitt explains that the threat by the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities to repeal accreditation of North Carolina schools provided the impetus for the General Assembly to withdraw the ban in 1965. He describes how the General Assembly nonetheless encouraged the trustees at North Carolina colleges and universities to enact similar regulations on their own. The interview concludes with Pollitt's discussion of how he participated in putting together a lawsuit to challenge the new regulations and how Herbert Aptheker, an avowed communist, was brought to UNC to provide fodder for the lawsuit. Ultimately, the Ban was ruled "unconstitutionally vague." Pollitt's comments in this interview reveal how southern legislators and comparatively liberal universities (UNC in particular) often found themselves at odds during a tumultuous era of social change.

The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the aggregation and enhancement of partner metadata.

Types:Transcripts | Sound recordings | Oral histories (document genres) | Text | Sound
Subjects:Pollitt, Daniel H. | Law teachers--North Carolina--Chapel Hill | Civil rights workers--North Carolina--Chapel Hill | North Carolina. Speaker Ban Law | Academic freedom--North Carolina--Chapel Hill | Freedom of speech--North Carolina--Chapel Hill | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. School of Law--Faculty--Political activity | Universities and colleges--Law and legislation--North Carolina | United States, North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 35.9132, -79.055845 | United States, North Carolina, Orange County, 36.0613199, -79.1205595
Collection:Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
Institution:Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Contributors:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project)
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Forms part of Oral histories of the American South collection.

Persistent Link to Item:http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/L-0064-7/menu.html