1966 March 9

Other Side of the Wall: Speakers Defy North Carolina Speaker Ban


The University of North Carolina, on June 25, 1963, adopted a speaker ban that prohibited Communists or alleged Communists from speaking on campus. Frank Wilkinson, leader of the national campaign to abolish HUAC, and Herbert Aptheker, a historian and Marxist, spoke at the university on this day by standing on Franklin Street, outside the wall circling the campus. They were technically off-campus, while an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 students stood on the other side of the wall and were technically on the campus. Herbert Aptheker was banned from speaking at Ohio State University on April 21, 1965.

Frank Wilkinson had a long civil liberties history. He was fired from his job with the Los Angeles housing authority because of his political associations, and then devoted himself to the abolition of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He refused to answer questions before HUAC on July 30, 1958, and was convicted of contempt of Congress and sentenced to prison as a result. He was responsible for organizing the famous demonstrations against HUAC that began on May 12, 1960, which resulted in police brutality, attracted national attention, and resulted in two documentary films, one pro-HUAC and one anti-HUAC.

Learn About the Controversy – Photos and Documents at the University of North Carolinahttp://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/exhibits/protests/ban.html

Learn more about Frank Wilkinson: Robert Sherrill, First Amendment Felon: The Story of Frank Wilkinson, His 132,000 Page FBI File and His Epic Fight for Civil Rights and Liberties (2005)

Frank Wilkinson’s work lives on at the Defending Dissent Foundationhttp://www.defendingdissent.org/now/

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