UNC alumnus John Drescher, of Columbia, S.C.'s The State, discussed the political life and accomplishments of former N.C. Gov. Terry Sanford.
Drescher, a former editor of The Daily Tar Heel, spoke in the James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence as part of the "Tuesdays with Friday" lecture series organized by former UNC-system President Bill Friday.
Drescher focused on Sanford's successful gubernatorial campaign in 1960 against pro-segregation Democratic candidate I. Beverly Lake, the father of the recently elected N.C. Supreme Court chief justice.
The 1960 election is the topic of his recently published book, "The Triumph of Good Will: How Terry Sanford Beat a Champion of Segregation and Reshaped the South."
Drescher said he was inspired to write the book after hearing Sanford speak about his campaign.
"I heard Terry Sanford talk about his 1960 campaign for governor, and I realized what a turning point it was for the South -- what a pivotal race it was for North Carolina," he said.
Drescher said he is increasingly intrigued as to why North Carolina set a precedent by electing a pro-integration candidate during the 1960s when predominantly segregationalist governors were being elected elsewhere in the South.
Part of the answer to this question, Drescher said, is Sanford's "enormous personal ambition," and his "tough guy" persona in the political arena, which drove him to do whatever it took to win.
"I think he saw that he could make a difference more as a governor than in any other place in the state," Drescher said.