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A new perspective

Terry Sanford-it is hard to set foot on Duke's campus without hearing his name, seeing his picture or strolling through a building named for him. But how much do students actually know about this campus legend?

John Drescher's book Triumph of Good Will: How Terry Sanford Beat a Champion of Segregation and Reshaped the South presents a new side of Sanford as a person and a politician outside of his Duke name.

"My students all recognized the name of Sanford and had seen pictures of him, but they didn't know much about the human side of him," said Alma Blount, who teaches a public policy class on leadership. "[Drescher] painted a portrait in the book of the human dimension of Sanford."

Blount had her class read a chapter out of Drescher's book before the author came to give a guest lecture.

Drescher, managing editor of The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., uses his book to recount the pivotal race for governor of North Carolina in 1960.

Drescher was prompted to write the book after hearing Sanford talk about his experiences during the race.

"I realized what a pivotal moment that was for North Carolina," Drescher said. "North Carolina chose a different path."

The book details how, in the middle of the civil rights struggle, Democrats Terry Sanford, who advocated integration, and I. Beverly Lake, an opponent to it, battled for their party's nomination for governor of North Carolina. Sanford won the primary and, ultimately, the office.

"I'd want [people] to understand how important this race was," Drescher said. "It was really a turning point for the South... There were strong segregationists who wanted to fight integration and they were winning everywhere."

The book highlights Sanford as a "trailblazer" in both campaigning and governing, Drescher explained. The work discusses issues that Sanford pushed, like improved public schools and better race relations.

"Terry Sanford became the most prominent symbol of 'The New South,' and thereby emboldened other Southern politicians to be gutsy in rallying the forces of racial harmony, in getting more blacks registered to vote and in taking the high road on this issue in general," wrote director of the Center for Ethics Joel Fleishman in an e-mail.

Drescher's book also addresses what he calls a "love/hate relationship" between North Carolina and Sanford.

"North Carolinians are divided about Sanford," he said. "To much of the state, he was a courageous leader who moved North Carolina forward and made it different from the other southern states." On the other hand, Drescher said, some felt Sanford was too liberal, pushing too hard and too fast on issues related to race and education.

Drescher explained that because he focused on one year of Sanford's life, his book has the ability to go into much more detail than does the biography written on Sanford. "Theirs was a broad look, while my focus is more on Sanford as a politician, especially in a time when segregation still existed," he said.

Throughout his work on the book, Drescher was able to speak with Sanford a number of times, and a friendly relationship between the two developed. "He was really proud of that campaign, and so he loved to talk about it," Drescher said.

Part of the book's strength comes from these interviews which add a personal touch to the work and highlight Sanford as a person.

"To me, the value of the book is that it paints this wonderfully detailed portrait of the human side of Terry Sanford, the politician," Blount said.

Drescher explained that during his interviews he sometimes had to push Sanford on certain issues, especially those pertaining to Sanford's platform during the 1960's. The former governor often "dodged and finessed" the issue, Drescher explained, because at the time, not many people advocated integration.

But, he added, "Sanford liked reporters and he liked the give and take... he liked to be challenged."


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