Addressing Poverty – Overview of the North Carolina Fund
(Courtesy of the Institute for Emerging Issues, North Carolina State University, Raleigh)
Governor Terry Sanford Calls for a Second Emancipation
In January,1963–on the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation–North Carolina governor Terry Sanford called for a second emancipation that would free the state’s citizens–black and white alike–from the twin scourges of poverty and Jim Crow. Sanford’s determination to uproot what one contemporary called the “poverty-segregation complex” became the North Carolina Fund’s guiding principle.
(Source: Videotape #1a in the Terry Sanford Papers, Collection #3531, Southern Historical Collection, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Used by permission.)
George Wallace’s Inaugural Address, January 1963
Four days before Terry Sanford issued his call for a second emancipation, George Wallace had offered a very different vision of the South’s future. In his inaugural address as governor of Alabama, he declared, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!”
Governor Sanford’s 1962 Schools Tour
In 1962, Governor Sanford embarked on a tour of North Carolina’s public schools. As he interacted with students, he came to understand the power of racism and poverty to blight the lives of the state’s children, black and white alike. That lesson figured prominently in his decision a year later to launch the North Carolina Fund. In this film clip, educator and Sanford assistant Raymond Stone recalls the governor’s school tour. The photographs in the clip were taken by Lt. Lloyd Burchett of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, who served as both Sanford’s chauffeur and photographer. They are available in the Raymond Stone Photograph Collection at the North Carolina State Archives.
(Source: “The Promise of Public Education,” a documentary film made in 2011 by the North Carolina Democratic Party.)
Interview with Fund Director George Esser
Esser discusses Fund’s role in battling poverty in North Carolina and its influence on President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. This interview offers not just an inside look at influential social justice organizations in the 1960s, but also a portrait of a man who devoted his life to ameliorating poverty and social inequality. Read and listen to Esser’s interview
The North Carolina Fund: A New Source of Hope for the People of Poverty
This film, produced in 1964, sought “to explain the North Carolina Fund to the people of the state and nation.”
(Source: North Carolina Fund Records, Collection #4710, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Used by permission.)
Interviews with Fund Photographer Billy Barnes
Barnes discusses the use of documentary photography in the Fund’s assault on poverty. He describes some of his most memorable photographs, recalls his controversial effort to establish a poor people’s newspaper in western North Carolina, and recalls the political tensions that shaped the War on Poverty in the South. Read and listen to Barnes’s interview one and interview two
The First 100
During the summers of 1964 and 1965, student volunteers from campuses across the state–men and women, black and white–worked together on antipoverty projects sponsored by Fund-supported community action agencies. One hundred volunteers served in 1964, followed by another 250 in 1965. The Fund produced this film to document the experiences of the “first 100” and to inform the public about their antipoverty efforts. The national VISTA program (Volunteers in Service to America) was modeled on the North Carolina Volunteers. The Fund trained the first group of VISTA workers in 1966.
(Source: North Carolina Fund Records, Collection #4710, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This film was preserved with grant support from the National Film Preservation Foundation. Used by permission.)
Speech by Community Organizer Howard Fuller
In 1996, Howard Fuller gave the keynote address at a conference in Durham, North Carolina that brought Fund veterans together with college and high school activists from across the state. He spoke about his experiences with the North Carolina Fund, his later work as superintendent of the Milwaukee Public Schools, and the enduring challenge of building democracy and battling poverty. Read and listen to Fuller’s speech
Beyond These Hills
In the summer of 1967, the North Carolina Fund and WAMY Community Action financed a rural water project in the Avery County settlement known as Blevins Creek. Until that time, local residents had walked miles each day to fetch water in buckets from a nearby spring. Sargent Shriver, director of the federal Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), and evangelist Billy Graham visited Blevins Creek for the project’s dedication ceremony. OEO documented the event in this film.