One on One with D. G. Martin

About 10 years ago, I compiled a list of the most important events in 20th-century North Carolina history. This seemed like a good time to reassess, but I’m sticking with what I wrote back then. Here’s my list:
The election of 1900. The white-supremacy Democratic Party returned to power, and Charles Brantley Aycock became governor. The adoption of a literacy requirement for voting (with a grandfather clause to protect illiterate whites) assured the Democrats' victory, effectively froze most blacks out of North Carolina political life for most of the century, and made us a solid one-party state.
The Wright brothers’ flight in 1903. Maybe the Wright brothers came from Ohio, but they came here. As a result, we define ourselves as "first in flight."
The creation of the State Highway Commission in 1921 under "Good Roads" Gov. Cameron Morrison.
The establishment of the Duke Endowment in 1924. The philanthropy of James Buchanan Duke ensured Duke University’s national prominence and set the pattern for a rich philanthropic tradition in North Carolina.
The 1929 textile strikes in Gastonia.
The publication of Look Homeward, Angel by Asheville native Thomas Wolfe in 1929.
The 1931 campus consolidation. Bringing together the campuses of North Carolina State, Women's College, and the University of North Carolina under one governing board and president ultimately led to the unified administration of all public higher education under the UNC system, beginning in 1971.
The founding of the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill in 1931. A model for similar institutions in other states, it fostered a tradition of professionalism and integrity in public officials.
State funding for public schools. In the early 1930's, North Carolina assumed primary responsibility for funding the state’s public schools.
The 1937 debut of "The Lost Colony," Paul Green’s pioneering outdoor drama. Since then, thousands of North Carolinians have learned their best-remembered history lessons in outdoor theaters in places like Manteo, Cherokee and Boone.
The rise of Billy Graham in 1949. After his successful crusade in Los Angeles, North Carolina made Graham its "patron saint."
The Willis Smith/Frank Graham U.S. Senate race in 1950. Terry Sanford, Jesse Helms, Robert Morgan, I. Beverly Lake Sr., John Sanders and many other important political figures played important roles in this campaign, cutting their teeth as they defined both their respective viewpoints and their commitment to participating in public life.
The creation of the Community College System in 1957.
The Lumbee Indians’ rout of the Ku Klux. This January 1958 event marked the beginning of the end for the Klan as a serious participant in North Carolina public life.
The founding of Research Triangle Park around 1959.
The Greensboro sit-ins at Woolworth's in February 1960.
The election of Gov. Terry Sanford in 1960.
The end of the Dixie Classic basketball tournament in 1961.
The 1963 Speaker Ban Law.
The Charlotte busing decision (Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education) upheld by the Supreme Court in 1971.
The 1972 elections. The election of Jesse Helms to the U.S Senate and of Jim Holshouser as the state’s first Republican governor in the 20th century ended 70 years of almost total Democratic political dominance. But it also began the era of Democrat Jim Hunt, who was elected lieutenant governor.
The 1984 Senate race between Jim Hunt and Jesse Helms.
The 1989 "coup d'etat" led by Joseph Mavretic in the Statehouse, ending the speakership of Liston Ramsey.
The 1991 selection of Dan Blue as the first African-American speaker of the House.
The merger of NationsBank and Bank of America in 1998. Having Bank of America's (and, for a time, Wachovia/First Union's) home offices in Charlotte made the state one of the country's biggest banking centers.

— D.G. Martin hosts UNC-TV's “North Carolina Bookwatch.”


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