• U.S.

NORTH CAROLINA: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

2 minute read

At first, big Willis Smith, a corporation lawyer who stood for the South-as-is, couldn’t decide whether to make another try for the U.S. Senate. In last month’s North Carolina Democratic primary bantam Fair Dealer Frank Graham had led him by 53,383 votes. But since Graham did not get a clear majority in a four-way race, Willis Smith was entitled to a runoff. Smith didn’t know whether he could muster enough money and votes. At the last minute, he decided to try.

He got the money from wealthy conservatives in & out of the state. More important, he got a real campaign break: the Supreme Court’s decisions against segregation in Southern colleges and interstate railroad dining cars. The dust those decisions stirred up could be measured by their effect in North Carolina, the most progressive of Southern states. “If you want your wife or daughter eating at the same table with Negroes,” warned a newspaper ad, “vote for Graham.” Graham, onetime president of the University of North Carolina, tried his quiet best to point out that, though he had been a member of Harry Truman’s Civil Rights Committee, he himself was opposed to the compulsory clauses of FEPC.

Last week in the runoff, Lawyer Smith won his case by 20,000-odd votes.The eastern section of the state, where the Negro population centers but where comparatively few Negroes vote, switched almost solidly to Smith. Said Smith: “I believe I know the viewpoint of North Carolina.”

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