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Communists on Campus: Race, Politics, and the Public University in Sixties North Carolina [Paperback]

William J. Billingsley
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Feb. 24 2003
North Carolina's 1963 speaker ban law declared the state's public college and university campuses off-limits to "known members of the Communist Party" or to anyone who cited the Fifth Amendment in refusing to answer questions posed by any state or federal body. Oddly enough, the law was passed in a state where there had been no known communist activity since the 1950s. Just which "communists" was it attempting to curb? In Communists on Campus, William J. Billingsley bares the truth behind the false image of the speaker ban's ostensible concern. Appearing at a critical moment in North Carolina and U.S. history, the law marked a last-ditch effort by conservative rural politicians to increase conservative power and quell the demands of the civil rights movement, preventing the feared urban political authority that would accompany desegregation and African American political participation. Questioning the law's discord with North Carolina's progressive reputation, Billingsley also criticizes the school officials who publicly appeared to oppose the speaker ban law but, in reality, questioned both students' rights to political opinions and civil rights legislation. Exposing the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the main target of the ban, he addresses the law's intent to intimidate state schools into submission to reactionary legislative demands at the expense of the students' political freedom.

Contrary to its aims, the speaker ban law spawned a small but powerfully organized student resistance led by the Students for a Democratic Society at the University of North Carolina. The SDS, quickly joined by more traditional student groups, mobilized student "radicals" in a memorable effort to halt this breach of their constitutional rights. Highlighting the crisis point of the civil rights movement in North Carolina, Communists on Campus exposes the activities and machinations of prominent political and educational figures Allard Lowenstein, Terry Sanford, William Friday, Herbert Aptheker, and Jesse Helms in an account that epitomizes the social and political upheaval of sixties America.


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"A serious and valuable work . . . Fosters an understanding of the race and class fault lines that remain under the surface of all southern politics . . . A solid contribution to the political literature of the region."--Journal of Politics


“Examines an important, often overlooked locus of political conflict in the 1960s South: the college campus . . . Billingsley has written a useful book whose discussion of the 'culture wars' between southern locals and cosmopolitans will make it required reading for students of the 1960s."--American Historical Review


"Explores a fascinating episode in North Carolina history . . . Challenges the view offered by such scholars as V. O. Key and William Chafe that race did not drive North Carolina politics."--Journal of American History


“Billingsley's talent as a historian lies in his animated rendition of institutional and state politics capturing the spirit of political and social resistance on both sides of the controversy. . . . [An excellent addition to the literature exploring the social and ideological politics of public universities, prompting us to reflect upon their role in shaping our national history."--History of Education Quarterly


“Elaborates a useful, accurate, and quite finely told story, tracing connections to major political figures, and connections also to the ongoing civil rights movements."--Academe: Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors

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4.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Dec 1 2000
By Linda
Format:Hardcover
Professor Billingsley is a passionate, knowledgable lecturer on race relations. I had the privilege to take his American History class and watched him expand his students' horizons and explode some of their long-standing belief systems. Truly a remarkable man. I would recommend this book highly.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Dec 1 2000
By Linda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Professor Billingsley is a passionate, knowledgable lecturer on race relations. I had the privilege to take his American History class and watched him expand his students' horizons and explode some of their long-standing belief systems. Truly a remarkable man. I would recommend this book highly.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book April 9 2013
By Canon Rebel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The research for this book is remarkable. The analysis is outstanding. It tells a story of reactionary legislation to limit free speech at UNC and then the duplicity of UNC administrators in cooperating with the speaker ban while giving the appearance of opposing it. Only SDS and a student movement pushed the matter to a resolution, a court case which struck down the law. The university and the FBI, however, colluded in COINTELPRO actions against SDS students while the struggle for free speech was going on. Subsequently, the FBI worked to prevent graduate student activists from getting teaching appointments at unversities.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read Nov. 15 2011
By Austin De soto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Fresh and Insightful this book showed a side of the 60's I never really thought to look. When we think of 60's movements we think of universities like Berkeley, Stanford, and the Ivy Leagues. Only when looking at Civil Rights is the southern education system ever under scrutiny. This book will teach you something and give you a new respect for a generation.
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