14 January/February 2012
In Defense of the Symbols
and Words That Challenge Us
Many thanks to the Alumni Review for
the fine piece on the Speaker Ban controversy (“Putting Ideas in Their Heads,”
November/December) — and those, students, faculty and alumni, who got this odious legislation removed from the books.
The bold leadership of Bill Friday ’ 48
(LLB) and Bill Aycock ’ 37 (MA, ’ 48 JD)
was indeed decisive and it stood in contrast
to the lack thereof at other state institutions. For instance — this is, of course,
hearsay — the late Peter Taylor, a wonderful writer, told me that when Ohio State
University was subjected to similar restrictions the OSU brass actually endorsed
them! I assume Peter knew, because he was
at the time on the Ohio State faculty. He
soon came back to Greensboro.
Several names are missing from your
otherwise comprehensive account. One is
that of the late Sen. Jesse Helms, whose
WRAL-TV commentaries urged the passage of the misbegotten statute and supported it from beginning to end. Indeed, I
believe it was Helms who imported it from
Ohio. Another is that of the chief judge of
the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,
Clement Haynsworth, who presided over
the three-judge panel and cast the deciding
vote in its 2-1 decision to overturn the law.
Some years later, Judge Haynsworth was
nominated by President Nixon to the U.S.
Supreme Court but denied confirmation
on flimsy conflict of interest charges — an
ironic mistreatment of a distinguished jurist
to whom we remain indebted for an articulate vindication of the First Amendment.
Another is Professor William Van Alstyne
of Duke Law School, who assisted McNeill
Smith ’ 38 in the preparation of the legal
case. Yet another was Sen. Ralph Scott of
Alamance County, who likewise spoke
fearlessly on the subject.
It is difficult today, some two decades
after the end of the Cold War, to grasp the
fears and insecurities that fed such follies as
the Speaker Ban, like McCarthyism before
it — and likewise, to understand the intimate connection between anti-civil rights
sentiments and vengeful legislative acts. It is
ironic, incidentally, that you report in the
same issue the sentiments of those who
CAROLINA November/December2011 ALUMNI REVIEW TheWaterman’sQuest/SamPhillips,Forgotten I hope history will record that the student body did not shy away from this challenge, but firmly and responsibly met it head on. –PaulDicksonIII,February1966
would remove the
Place — a similarly
Silent Sam is, of course, a symbol of a cause
and acts which most of us today believe to
have been mistaken, even tragic. But symbols, too, no less than words, challenge us
and ought to be preserved and defended on
that account — even if we dislike the message. They are of a piece with the faith in
free speech and expression that animated the
fight against the Speaker Ban.
Edwin M. Yoder Jr. ’ 56
Two Police Chiefs
Who Set a Standard
In reading the article in the November/December 2011 issue of the Review
concerning the Speaker Ban controversy, I
noted two photographs on page 26 identifying “speakers” Frank Wilkinson and Herbert Aptheker. Also featured prominently
in those photos, but unidentified, were
members of the UNC and the Chapel Hill
law enforcement community. The police
officer in the top photo was Chief William
D. Blake of the Chapel Hill Police Department, and in the bottom photo, the man in
the center left to whom Aptheker appears
to be speaking was “Chief” Arthur Beaumont of the UNC Campus Police.
I had the privilege of working with
both of these men during my early years in
Chapel Hill. I worked for Chief Beaumont
as a graduate student serving in my
“work/study” job as a campus police dispatcher, and I later served as a police officer and detective with the CHPD under
the leadership of Chief Blake.
In serving the UNC and Chapel Hill
communities in their law enforcement
capacities during the turbulent 1960s and
early 1970s, both of these men demonstrated an amazing understanding of how
to handle the “town and gown” relationships that were not always positive but that
were usually resolved in a manner acceptable to all concerned.
Their leadership within their respective
organizations demonstrated a skill that
served as a model for many “chiefs” who
followed and that should still be considered
the standard to which those who serve
today are held.
Silent Sam’s Message Is Clear,
Without Plaques or Lectures
Before the 2003 letter Gerald Horne
sent to The Daily Tar Heel and referenced
in your November/December 2011 article
on Silent Sam, Horne wrote a column for
The Chapel Hill News in February 2000.
In it he called for the removal of the
statue. The Review ran a story in the
May/June 2000 issue referencing the column and expanding on the controversy.
There were several significant arguments
made for the retention of the monument,
some by UNC professors. I myself wrote a
letter expressing my feelings to the Review.
Now, once again, I find myself writing in
support of Silent Sam.
I find it ironic that an issue devoted to
the Speaker Ban law — and the efforts of
students to see that all sides of an issue are
given equal access regardless of how repugnant they might be — also glamorizes the
actions of a current group to impose its
own form of censorship. Silent Sam needs
no plaques or relocation or annual lectures.
There is no need to “fill in the blanks of the
South’s incomplete history,” as quoted in
the article. The history of the South is well-known and documented. Indeed, one only
need visit Wilson Library and spend time in
the Southern Historical Collection reading
actual material written by the participants as
opposed to the so-called scholarly musings
produced generations later. The truth of the
matter is that without the concerted efforts
of post-war Southern leaders such as Vance,
Spencer, Mangum, Battle and others, the
University would not have reopened in
1876. Indeed, the money for the reopening
was not provided by the federal government
in Washington or the reconstruction government in Raleigh but mainly by the
alumni of the University, many of them
veterans of the Confederate military.
Removing their names from buildings
would be to deny the history of the institution, as would the removal of Silent Sam.