AYCOCK AND THE SPEAKER BAN
gone forth from
to provide sound
land. It is
a pity so many
have left for
now to difend
but long on
Ban Law. It said,"No University receiving
state funds shall permit any person to use
its facilities for speiling purposes who is a
known member of the Conu11unist party
or who has pleaded the Fifth Amendment"
or who seeks the "overthrow of the Con-
The sentiment for the bill began in the
1960 governor's race. Beverly Lake's cam-
paign complained of "outrageous events at
Chapel Hill" - an. invitation to Martin
Luther King Jr. and, "even worse, the
appearance of Langston Hughes to read his
poetry." The "conu11unist" theory of the
speaker ban was at least in part the notion
that anyone who advocated civil rights
must be a conu11unist. Legislators and the
American Legion were equally outraged
that UNC students had engaged in sit-in
demonstrations in Raleigh. Even at the Sir
Walter Raleigh Hotel, where the legislators
lived. Making it worse, a Carolina professor
was among the demonstrators. Since the
University wouldn't sanction the marchers,
the speaker ban was enacted.
Like a good administrator, Aycock first
took his case to the Board of Trustees;
pointing out the vagueness of the ban and
its flat violation of the ideals of academic
inquiry. The board dropped its initial skep-
ticism over Aycock's position and passed a
resolution "condemning the Speaker Ban
as a departure from the traditions of North
Then, as the University struggled to
enforce the ban against outside speakers and
even its own students, boycotts grew and
accreditation was threatened. Taking an
unusual step for an academic leader, Aycock
carried the fight beyond the campus walls.
He began with a speech to a huge alunmi
gathering. Calling the speaker ban an "insult
and stigma," he compared it to the monkey
law of Tennessee. He directly attacked the
bill's sponsor, Secretary of State Thad Eure,
calling it the "poorest drafted piece of legis-
lation [he'd] seen." He admitted that state
leaders had warned him to keep quiet, but
he refused to be silent in the face of a direct
threat to the integrity of the University.
The speech was carried with banner head-
lines across the state: "Chancellor Launches
Scathing Attack on Speaker Law."
Legislators responded with rage. Sen.
Adam Whitley told reporters he'd had
more than enough "big talk" from the
chancellor, he was "sick of him" and that
henceforth only supporters of the ban
would be selected for the trustees. Editori-
als reminded Aycock to remember his
place. A Duke University official
denounced him bitterly, saying he should
"be fired immediately."
Aycock responded by upping the ante.
He spoke to the Greensboro Bar Associa-
tion, telling lawyers it was their professional
duty to enlist in the fight. Infuriating the
bill's sponsors, he said,"We have taken the
first step in emulating the narrow dogmas
of the enemy we abhor." Quoting Pericles,
he said we should "die resisting rather than
live submitting."Again, front-page stories
appeared with headlines such as, "Aycock
on the Attack."
Aycock's home county (Johnston)
Democratic Party passed a resolution con-
demning him. The 1964 governor's race
was in full swing. He called on the candi-
dates to support repeal. All three, Lake,
Richardson Preyer and Dan K. Moore ' 27,
in a strategy session
over the law with
Walter Frank Taylor
speaker of the N.C.
House; and David
Britt, chair of the
w :r r-
Building In 1966.
democracy is one of
the few places where
can be argued,"
wrote Fred Anderson
, a Morehead
Scholar at the time.
in this issue
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