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A Right to Speak and to Hear: Academic Freedom and Free Expression at UNC

On June 26, 1963 North Carolina's lawmakers approved a bill that came to be known as the Speaker Ban. The law forbade Communists and others critical of the United States government from speaking on the campuses of North Carolina's publicly-funded universities and colleges. The Speaker Ban's passage drew almost immediate reaction from students and faculty, who protested that the law infringed on their rights to free speech.  Students eventually initiated a lawsuit, and the Speaker Ban law was overturned in 1968.

While the controversy surrounding the Speaker Ban may be the most well-known test of academic freedom on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, it was not the first nor the last. For much of its history, UNC has been both praised and criticized for fostering an environment that supports freedom in teaching and learning.  At times campus leaders have been praised for upholding these principles. At other times, they have received criticism for limiting expression. Pressure from outside the campus's rock walls has occasionally played a part in the debates. This exhibition, which marks the 50th anniversary of passage of the Speaker Ban, examines events that tested the University's commitment to academic freedom and free expression.


Campaigns & Causes: Political Memorabilia in North Carolina


Since the 1840s, decorative devices and slogans have been used to promote political candidates and causes. While ribbons, broadsides, and buttons comprise the earliest type of memorabilia, additional forms of advertising soon became commonplace, including stickers, thimbles, and “instant shoe shine.” This exhibit features a selection of memorabilia from some of North Carolina's more interesting and controversial political campaigns and causes since 1898.

Items in this exhibit are courtesy of Lew Powell or from the holdings of the North Carolina Collection.

Evolution Controversy in NC in the 1920s


On January 8, 1925, Representative D. Scott Poole introduced a resolution in the North Carolina Legislature in which he proposed that it was "injurious to the welfare of the people" for public schools "to teach or permit to be taught, as a fact, either Darwinism or any other evolutionary hypotheses that links man in blood relationship with any lower form of life." Poole's resolution sparked a heated debate that would engage North Carolinians for the next two years.

This website presents a selection of primary source materials documenting the statewide debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools in the 1920s. Drawn primarily from the collections in Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, these materials will enable students, teachers, and researchers to read original sources and to study a question that captivated North Carolinians in the 1920s, and which still resonates today.

The North Carolina Election of 1898


The election of 1898 was one of the most significant elections in the history of North Carolina. The effects of the campaign, and many of the issues that were raised, would last long into the twentieth century.

This website is designed for students, teachers, and researchers studying this important period in the history of North Carolina. Using primary sources drawn from the holdings of the North Carolina Collection, this site will allow users to explore the issues of the campaign by examining contemporary newspaper articles, speeches, and editorial cartoons. 

The website is divided into the following sections:

History: A brief sketch of the issues, events, and personalities that shaped the election of 1898 in North Carolina. This page also includes a bibliography of sources used for this site.

Primary Sources: Several significant primary sources, most drawn from North Carolina newspapers, are presented here.  These sources document the platforms and actions of the three political parties vying for power.

Timeline: An outline of significant dates leading up to election day in 1898.

Biographical Sketches: Many of the political figures who played an important role in the statewide campaign in 1898 are described here.

Glossary: A brief guide to significant issues, phrases, and organizations.


PLEASE NOTE: Many of the articles and cartoons on 
this site contain racially insensitive images and text.