Sanford on Film

June 1, 2006
Out on the hustings: Margaret Rose Sanford and Terry Sanford

Out on the hustings: Margaret Rose Sanford and Terry Sanford. Still from Terry Sanford and the New South courtesy The News & Observer

By February of 1960, Terry Sanford had been working to win the governorship of North Carolina for the better part of a decade. When four young black men sat down at a Greensboro Woolworth counter and demanded to be served, their actions put him in the most excruciating dilemma. To support them would be to commit political suicide; to condemn them would be to violate his most basic principles; to remain silent was impossible.

"I knew the lines of history were intersecting right there," Sanford would say later of his fateful campaign for the governorship and his single term in office.

That story, and Sanford's role in the emergence of progressive politics in the South, is the subject of Thomas Lennon's film, Terry Sanford and the New South, which premiered at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, held in Durham in April.

After his governorship, Sanford became president of Duke and led the university through a period of rapid growth and a surge in national reputation; later, he was a U.S. Senator.

Duke is a major sponsor of the festival, generally considered one of the best in the country. The film was followed by a panel discussion moderated by television journalist Judy Woodruff '68, Hon. '98.