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Bill Friday exhibit opens on campus

Those who want to learn about the life of the first UNC-system president can visit a new on-campus exhibit dedicated to the late Bill Friday.

The main feature of the multi-site exhibit, “Bill Friday: In His Own Words,” is in the Melba Remig Saltarelli Exhibit Room of Wilson Library. The exhibit will run through the end of December and is free and open to the public.

The exhibit is part of the Southern Historical Collection and includes audio clips from the Southern Oral History Program. The clips illustrate the essence of Friday’s work, said Helen Thomas, the Southern Historical Collection graduate student assistant who was one of the people responsible for organizing the project.

Thomas said she knew about Friday’s impact before coming to UNC.

“I grew up knowing Friday from public TV,” she said.

Freshman Andrew Neiswender is interested in learning more about Friday.

“I haven’t heard of Bill Friday … but hopefully this exhibit will increase students’ knowledge about such an important UNC figure,” he said.

Posters in six locations across campus and Chapel Hill, including Carroll Hall and the Student Union, complement the main exhibit.

The posters each have Quick Read (QR) codes that can be scanned with smart phones to enable visitors to listen to audio files from speeches and interviews Friday gave. A website that includes the audio files accompanies the exhibit for people who are unable to visit.

The exhibit includes Friday’s notes for the speech he gave to the U.S. House of Representatives stressing the need for government to continue funding higher education.

Friday’s speech notes also show his influence on state education. One speech highlights Friday’s awareness of the changing economy of the state and the connection between literacy and poverty.

“A sixth of our population lives in circumstances of income of less than $1,000 to $10,000 dollars a year,” he said in a speech about the N.C. Poverty Project, a group that he chaired. “What happens to those people happens to us because we can’t progress as a state.”

Visitors can view Friday’s high school yearbook and his textile notebook from his studies at N.C. State University.

“Through creating this exhibit, I learned about his impact on the nation in the realm of education.”

Senior Ty Fenton said Friday did a good job of keeping tuition down and is the reason UNC is still seen as an affordable public university.

“But I did not realize the national impact he had on education,” Fenton said.

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