Hodges found way to protect cigarette labeling

Pat McCrory isn’t the first North Carolina governor to strike back at efforts to make cigarette packaging less appealing.

In 1959, Luther Hodges wired Gov. Ralph Herseth of South Dakota to protest a bill that would require tobacco to carry a skull and crossbones label and the statement “Not recommended by state of South Dakota”:

“I know that you would not want the General Assembly of North Carolina to pass a law requiring that any farm products originating from South Dakota and offered for sale in North Carolina must carry labels warning that, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, South Dakota soil has the highest content in the nation of selenium, a well known poison.”

In response, South Dakota took only three days to kill the proposed anti-tobacco measure. Gov. McCrory can only wish Ireland and France were as accommodating.


Hodges to blacks: Stick with black schools — or else

On this day in 1955: Over statewide radio and television, Gov. Luther Hodges gives North Carolina’s response to the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

Hodges argues that the Supreme Court has outlawed only forced segregation of schools and asks that blacks now send their children to black schools voluntarily. If they don’t, he warns, the state might abandon public education altogether.


Campaign donors’ checks really were in the mail

“North Carolina’s Governor Luther Hodges, a courtly textileman who came out of retirement to enter public life four years ago, likes to keep his books straight. Assured of re-election after romping through the May 26 primary with a record 401,082 votes, popular Democrat Hodges last week proceeded to clear up his accounts with a businesslike gesture that sent chills through other politicians across the country.

“His renomination campaign, the governor announced candidly, had cost 25% less than the $40,000 raised for his campaign fund. Each of the 329 contributors, with the exception of himself, his wife and a tiny band of close advisers, would get a 25% refund. Said Hodges after the checks were mailed out: ‘It occurred to me that this was the only proper thing to do.’ ”

— From Time magazine, June 25, 1956


Not all wronged blacks had ally in NAACP

“[In 1958 in Monroe, North Carolina] two Negro boys aged seven and nine were playing house with a group of white kids their age….  One of the white girls and one of the Negro boys kissed. The little girl told her parents. Joined by his neighbors, the girl’s father went looking for the boy and his family with a gun. Both boys were arrested and sent to reform school indefinitely. As head of the local chapter of the NAACP, Robert Williams…  called in the national office. There followed a classic case of alienation between the Negro middle class and the Negro poor….

“Since the boys were deemed illegitimate, the national office had reservations about  involvement in their case, feeling that the boys’  families just weren’t the type of Negroes to shine a national limelight on….

“But an English reporter got wind of the case and decided to visit the boys in reform school. She brought along their mothers, and the photo of their reunion was shown in newspapers around the world. Demonstrations in support of the boys were held in Paris, Rome, Vienna and Rotterdam. … Fifteen thousand signatures demanding their release were… sent to President Eisenhower and [Gov. Luther Hodges]. The boys were released on February 13, 1959.”

— From “Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America” by Hugh Pearson (1994)