DAN SEARS ’ 74
Senator Sam and Race: A Deeper Look
Ultimately, though, he reached another
understanding of Ervin: “I really like him,
and I admire his integrity, and I admire his
struggle to be as good a person and as good Sen. Sam J. Ervin Jr.
a statesman as he could be, given the times.” ’ 17 and his wife,
Senator Sam Ervin: Last of the Founding Margaret, at the
Fathers, recently published by UNC Press, train station in
is the culmination of more than two Washington, D.C., in
decades’ work on Ervin, the Morganton 1954. The author (at
native who gained national prominence top) praises Ervin for
when he chaired the Senate committee standing up to Joe
McCarthy and for his
As have many biographers, Karl
Campbell went through several
phases as he worked on his study of
Sam Ervin ’ 17. He started out as an admirer
of the former senator from North Carolina.
Then came painful reassessments, as Campbell examined Ervin’s civil rights record.
investigating the Watergate scandal. Camp- commitment to civil
bell, who holds master’s (’ 87) and doctoral frontation of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his liberties but criti-
(’ 96) degrees in history from Carolina, commitment to civil liberties. But the cizes his paternalis-
began his study of Ervin in the mid-’80s. essence of the book is its study of Ervin’s tic approach on
The book is an evenhanded look at “a North Carolina roots, particularly his racial racial issues.
man full of paradoxes,” as Campbell writes. views, and on that score Campbell is decid-
Ervin’s tenure as Watergate committee edly critical.
chair is covered in detail, of course, and “I think this book is a demonstration of
Campbell praises the senator for his con- the soft Southern Strategy,” said Campbell,
away from the
turned instead to
a more legalistic
Karl Campbell ’ 87
(MA, ’ 96 PhD)