“The Rankest Center of Communism”:

Charles J. Holden

in The New Southern University

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780813134383
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813135960 | DOI:
“The Rankest Center of Communism”:

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This chapter discusses how New Deal-era, pro-labor activism by left-leaning UNC professors prompted new rounds of controversy for the university. UNC leaders defended their faculty's activism by invoking academic freedom to pursue their personal political convictions away from their job. The UNC began to emphasize the freedom of speech component of academic freedom rather than the freedom to develop one's academic expertise. Since most of the left-leaning activists were from the English department and not experts on economics, the UNC really had no choice. But defending academic freedom as a matter of free speech did little to persuade critics and only heightened the suspicion surrounding the idea of academic freedom itself. The suspicions were then amplified by the fact that there were a few actual communists among the UNC faculty and student body.

Keywords: communism; labor; Great Depression; free speech; liberalism; academic freedom; radicalism; conservatism

Chapter.  10940 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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