I know some great people fighting the good fight in North Carolina. It’s an uphill battle, though, because of Art Pope and his millions.
Closing the Poverty Center wouldn’t stop Nichol from writing, but it would be a further hollowing out of a public university system that used to have high regard for the poor. Former UNC system President Bill Friday was on stage when President John F. Kennedy told UNC students this “great institution … has required great sacrifice by the people of North Carolina. I cannot believe that all of this is undertaken merely to give this school’s graduates an economic advantage in the life struggle.”
Friday, who served on the board of the Poverty Center till the day he died in 2012, later told Nichol’s students, “A million Tar Heels living in poverty paid taxes to support your education. You’ll want to think about what you’re going to do to pay ‘em back.”
The Pope Center for Higher Education Policy sees it differently. Last month, in a 36-page paper unironically titled “Renewal of the University,” it proposed a national effort to replace centers that espouse “philosophies of multiculturalism, postmodernism, and statism” with centers that preserve and promote a “general philosophy of liberty.”
“At times in my life,” Nichol says, “I’ve thought that if we work hard enough, that if we make these issues visible, then the wealthy will do more to help those at the bottom. I think that less frequently now.”