‘[Most] kids in Chapel Hill are amazingly on the ball’

“As soon as I got back here [to Roxbury, Conn.] from Paris I had to go down south for that wretched lecture tour in Va. and N.C. The U of Va was a drag — I felt like a pariah in that smug place, almost no one showed up for my talk! — but this was cancelled out by my turn-out at the U of N.C. — nearly a thousand students, all rapt and worshipping except for the usual phalanx of a half a dozen or maybe a dozen black folk who did their usual childish gig of trying, unsuccessfully, to embarrass me by walking out.

“Anyway, I think I’m going to transfer my state allegiance from Va. to North Carolina. The kids in Chapel Hill are really amazingly on the ball.”

– William Styron, writing to his daughter Susanna, March 28, 1972

Although “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” Styron’s imagined memoir of the real-life leader of a Virginia slave revolt,  brought accusations of racial stereotyping, it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1968.