Perry Deane Young: A new speaker ban

April 15, 2014 

Regarding the April 13 news article “ Nichol speaks, just not for UNC”: This is not the first time right-wing radicals have gone after someone at UNC. They come from a long line of bullies, most notably a young Jesse Helms spreading racist fears about Frank Porter Graham in his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1952.

In 1963, Helms and his cohorts went after UNC President Bill Friday because he refused to fire two professors who were actively involved in the Civil Rights movement.

The infamous speaker ban had nothing to do with banning Communist speakers at UNC. It was clearly intended as a slap in the face for Friday because he wouldn’t do what a few legislators wanted. Friday and Chancellor William B. Aycock stood up to the bullies in the 1960s and took an uncompromising stand for free speech.

Although these right-wingers talk about freedom, what they really crave is control. Art Pope and Pat McCrory are carrying on the darkest tradition of intolerance in our beloved South.

Gene Nichol, not only a great professor and role model but also a fine writer, is carrying on the very best tradition of freedom that has given our university an international reputation for free speech and excellence. He is saying things about racism and poverty nobody else is saying. We are all in his debt.

Perry Deane Young

Chapel Hill

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