Letters to the Editor

Stuart Sumner: Aycock a progressive for his time

Regarding the April 7 news article “NC legislators want Billy Graham statue in US Capitol”: I researched N&O newspapers circa 1900, and it is apparent that no person could have become governor of North Carolina then unless he supported the North Carolina constitutional amendment to disenfranchise blacks and openly averred the white race as the superior one.

Of all the Democratic candidates for governor, Charles Aycock might well have been the least radical.

On Jan. 17, 1901, The N&O printed a portion of his inaugural address, “The Governor on the Negro.” Given the sentiment of the white majority, Aycock’s views appear to be quite progressive, demanding an end to lynchings and adamantly guaranteeing the rights of the negro under the law.

That he championed higher education for both races is perhaps a better indication of his true feelings than supremacist words he might have spoken in order to achieve the governorship.

Just the same, all of us own the consequences of our behavior – even centuries later. I would venture to say that someday even the Rev. Billy Graham may fall into disfavor.

Stuart Sumner