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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Academic freedom exhibit shows changing face of controversy

It has been a half-century since students vehemently protested North Carolina’s 1963 Speaker Ban Law. But, as an exhibit at the Wilson Special Collection Library amply shows, battles over free speech run throughout the University’s history.

The exhibit, “A Right to Speak and Hear: Academic Freedom and Free Expression at UNC,” uses original letters, documents and photographs to chronicle Carolina’s free speech controversies over politics, race, religion and sex from the 19th century to the present.

It also reveals that few groups on campus have an unblemished record defending the rights of unpopular speakers to be heard – and how what is viewed as controversial continues to change over time.

Take this quiz developed by University Library staff to see what you know about campus history. To prepare, you might want to visit the exhibit, which continues through June 2.

1. A misunderstanding about an assignment connected to which of the following poems resulted in criticism of the English department in 1967?

a.    “To His Coy Mistress,” by Andrew Marvell
b.    “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” by Christopher Marlowe
c.    “To the Virgins, Make Much of Time,” by Robert Herrick
d.    “I Sing the Body Electric,” by Walt Whitman

2. Chemistry professor Benjamin Sherwood Hedrick was dismissed from the faculty in 1856 for which of the following?

a.    Advocating for women’s rights
b.    Publicly announcing his political views
c.    Being an atheist
d.    All of the above

3. Which infraction of the University’s Laws was most likely to result in a student’s dismissal in the early 1800s?

a.    Possessing an impious or obscene book
b.    Insulting the University president or professors
c.    Denying the existence of a God
d.    Making an indecent gesture to another student

4. In 1856, the senior class’s invitation to a national dignitary to deliver the baccalaureate address at Commencement was criticized by some North Carolinians.  The invitation to which of these individuals sparked the controversy?

a.    Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”
b.    Abraham Lincoln, Illinois lawyer and politician
c.    Brigham Young, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
d.    John Joseph Hughes, reformer and Archbishop of New York

5. A plaque on the stone wall on Franklin Street commemorates which event in University history?

a.    Student efforts to overturn the Speaker Ban Law
b.    Student involvement in the 1960s integration sit-ins
c.    UNC students’ non-violent protests following the Kent State tragedy
d.    The University’s involvement in World War I and World War II

6. The Carolina Political Union worked to bring speakers to campus representing viewpoints from across the political spectrum. Which of the following individuals was not invited by the CPU to speak at UNC?

a.    Franklin D. Roosevelt
b.    Leon Trotsky
c.    Henry Ford
d.    J. Edgar Hoover

7. In November 1939 the “Carolina Buccaneer,” a student humor magazine, published an issue about sex that was so explicit that:

a.    The issue sold out and a second edition was printed and sold at twice the price.
b.    N.C. Gov. Clyde R. Hoey said he feared if he brought his wife Bessie to Chapel Hill she would turn into a pillar of salt.
c.    The Student Council ordered all 3,000 copies of the magazine destroyed.
d.    Father Charles Edward Coughlin cited the magazine on his radio program as further evidence of loose morals brought about by the New Deal.

8. Which is not the title of a former UNC student humor magazine?

a.    “Tar an’ Feathers”
b.    “The Tar Pit”
c.    “Tar Baby”
d.    “Tarnation”

9. In the 1930s, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Green, UNC Press founding director William T. Couch and historian C. Vann Woodward (then a graduate student at Carolina) all received criticism for their involvement in which of these controversial legal battles?

a.    “The Scottsboro Boys,” nine African-American teenage boys accused of rape in Alabama
b.    Gaines v. Canada, a 1938 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the integration of the Law School at the University of Missouri
c.    The defense of six workers accused of the bombing of two textile mills in Burlington, N.C.
d.    The repeal of prohibition and the establishment of Alcoholic Beverage Control boards (ABC stores) in North Carolina

10. Which political commentator was a proponent of the Speaker Ban Law and vocal critic of Carolina?

a.    William F. Buckley Jr.
b.    Rush Limbaugh
c.    William Safire
d.    Jesse Helms

11. Which UNC student body presidents were instrumental in protesting the Speaker Ban Law?

a.    Mary Cooper and Will Leimenstoll
b.    Robert Spearman and Paul Dickson
c.    Richard Epps and C. Ford Runge
d.    Patricia Wallace and Bryan Hassel

12. Which UNC student organizations invited Herbert Aptheker and Frank Wilkinson to speak on campus in direct violation of the Speaker Ban Law?

a.    Students for a Democratic Society
b.    Black Student Movement
c.    Order of the Gimghoul
d.    Residence Hall Association

13. The wall over which Herbert Aptheker and Frank Wilkinson spoke to the student body was decorated with what sign?

a.    Beat Dook
b.    Power to the People
c.    Gov. Dan K. Moore’s (Chapel Hill) Wall
d.    Support Freedom of Speech

14. In January 1975 an invited speaker was shouted down by students in Memorial Hall and unable to finish his talk. The speaker was:

a.    Curtis LeMay
b.    Ronald Reagan
c.    David Duke
d.    Robert McNamara

15. Critics attacked the Summer Reading Program selection for 2002 because they claimed it:

a.    Painted too glowing a picture of Islam
b.    Was a Marxist rant
c.    Misrepresented the Confederacy
d.    Proselytized for vegetarianism

16. Protestors sought to prevent Tom Tancredo from speaking on campus in April 2009 because they disagreed with his views on:

a.    Treatment of unauthorized immigrants to the United States
b.    Federal funding for student loans
c.    Affirmative action
d.    Waterboarding and other forms of torture


How did you do?

"A Right to Speak and Hear: Academic Freedom and Free Expression at UNC" was sponsored by the North Carolina Collection, the Southern Historical Collection and University Archives.