Monday, February 12, 2018

Terry Sanford Not Popular in Caswell County

Governor Terry Sanford
On the afternoon of January 18, 1963, in the ballroom of the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford opened his remarks to 200 reporters and editors gathered for the annual meeting of the North Carolina Press Association by saying, "I wanted to take this occasion, talking to people who have so much to do with the attitudes of the citizens of the state, to say something to you that I have long wanted to say, that I believe we must say and that I believe will mean much to the development of the life and character of our state." Then, he began.

"The American Negro was freed from slavery one hundred years ago. In this century he has made much progress, educating his children, building churches, entering into the community and civic life of the nation.

"Now is the time in this hundredth year not merely to look back to freedom, but forward to the fulfillment of its meaning. Despite this great progress, the Negro's opportunity to obtain a good job has not been achieved in most places across the nation. Reluctance to accept the Negro in employment is the greatest single block to his continued progress and to the full use of the human potential of the nation and its states.

"The time has come for American citizens to give up this reluctance, to quit unfair discrimination, and to give the Negro a full chance to earn a decent living for his family and to contribute to higher standards for himself and all men.

"We cannot rely on law alone in this matter because much depends upon its administration and upon each individual's sense of fair play. North Carolina and its people have come to the point of recognizing the urgent need for opening new economic opportunities for Negro citizens. We also recognize that in doing so we shall be adding new economic growth for everybody.

"We can do this. We should do this. We will do it because we are concerned with the problems and the welfare of our neighbors. We will do it because our economy cannot afford to have so many people fully and partially unproductive. We will do it because it is honest and fair for us to give all men and women their best chance in life."

He then announced he was that day appointing 24 individuals to the Good Neighbor Council he had proposed months earlier to work toward the elimination of discriminatory hiring practices. To show good faith on his part, he was asking the heads of all state agencies to immediately write nondiscrimination hiring policies for their departments.

While approval of Sanford's remarks and actions was widespread, it was not universal. Among the congratulatory letters and telegrams and positive news clippings there remained the angry voice of those resistant to the changes that threatened their traditional way of life.

A few days after Sanford's speech, about 400 people attended a meeting of the North Carolina Defenders of States Rights in Yanceyville, Caswell County, where black students had just begun attending school with whites. The public relations director of a Virginia group that sponsored private all-white schools offered advice on implementing the Pearsall Plan, and Bernard Dixon, a Caswell County farmer, denounced Sanford as a "carpetbagger." "He is against white people. It is reflected in his statements and the newspaper headlines he makes," Dixon said. "But Sanford is doing at least one good job and that is bootlicking the Kennedy brothers, and I use the word only because it is a polite term." Before the meeting adjourned, the crowd endorsed a resolution dedicating their support to I. Beverly Lake should he run for governor in 1964.

By the end of the month, segregationists across the South were responding to a new voice of demagoguery. As Sanford sought consensus with words of hope and moderation, Alabama's Governor George Wallace delivered his declaration of "segregation forever" in an inaugural address that was as well received in many corners of North Carolina as it was in Alabama. The Caswell County crowd too had listened. "Brothers [the U.S. Supreme Court) kicked the trap from under the gallows," Dixon declared. "Unless we take a firm stand and use the word 'never,' and that's what they're using in Alabama and Mississippi, we're not going to like this thing."

See: Raleigh News and Record, 16 October 1999 ("Terry Sanford: A Southern Legend").

Raleigh -- North Carolina Defenders of States Rights, Inc., was chartered today in the office of Secretary of State Thad Eure. Dedicated to the preservation of "national and racial integrity, state's rights and individual liberty," the organization lists among its board of directors men prominent throughout the state.

Directors whose names appear on the charter included Bernard H. Dixon of Providence, Caswell County, North Carolina.

A summary of the purpose for which the organization was formed is found in the Preamble of its Platform, the chief purposes being the preservation of a white society and culture and preservation of white and Negro racial integrities.

"We are of the belief that the western European culture which is our heritage is superior to the African and Asiatic. it is, in any event, our preference, and we are proud of our heritage."

"A gigantic movement is afoot to destroy Constitutional Government, to seriously curtail the rights of the individual States of the Union, to foster a form of Socialism at the expense of our traditional American freedoms, and to destroy the social mores of our country and thereby both the White and Negro races by encouraging the integration of them. We believe these things to be evil in themselves and to serve the interests of the Communist Party program to dominate this country."

Statesville Record and Landmark (Statesville, North Carolina), 21 November 1958, Friday, Page 1.

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