Remembering Ernest Hollings

Remembering Ernest Hollings

Welcome to This Week In South
Carolina I’m Gavin Jackson. This past week former governor and
United States senator Ernest Fritz Hollings passed away he
was a giant in South Carolina politics and we devote this
episode to looking back at his life and his legacy. How do you want to be
remembered? For working for the good we worked around the clock.
When I see these coming in as a government we we didn’t wait
around with all these formalities and that and trying
to do this and do that we knew and the first get goal that they
weren’t going to invest in South Carolina unless we had a
balanced budget and not only that that it continued to be
balanced so Bill Chandler and I had passed that rule twenty
two when we were in the House together then we had to get the
skill and then we had to get a little use playing for twenty
five thousand dollars and we got with Frances Hipp and that
wonderful development board we flew around the clock getting
industry we went down to Latin America we went to Europe
and we built and the task as a as a senator we’ve tried to
build a country but we’ve had just like drinking water out of
a fire hydrant from Vietnam right on through problems,
Watergate, all the national problems and everything else we
did get on top of those problems with Bill Clinton.
Ernest Frederick Fritz Hollings was born on new year’s day
nineteen twenty two he was raised in Charleston and lived
through the Great Depression I grew up above Broad around
Mitchell playground even though it was depression and
everything else like that we all worked some. I was one of
five children. We got a good public school
education and that’s why you find me almost a zealot to try
to bring it back to the level of proficiency.
He was educated in Charleston public schools and when it came
time for him to go to college he chose the Citadel. He
graduated the Citadel and served as an artillery captain during
World War two in North Africa and Europe after returning home
he went to law school served as a state representative and
lieutenant governor before being elected governor at age
thirty six. Hollings served as governor from nineteen fifty
nine through nineteen sixty three and oversaw desegregation
at Clemson University before leaving. Hollings position was that we had run out of courts
in that Clemson would be integrated and
it would be done peacefully in that set the tone for the
entire state and it was accomplished peacefully.
We’ll take a deeper look at Hollings’ record in a moment
with David Ballantyne author of the book New Politics in the Old
South Ernest F Hollings in the Civil Rights Era. Hollings also
have John F. Kennedy win South Carolina and
other states in the nineteen sixty presidential election
Fritz Hollings took an extraordinary bold and
courageous action in the nineteen sixty campaign by
supporting John Kennedy for the presidency Catholic at a time
when it was not really a politically popular thing for
him to do I remember that Presedent Kennedy was lost and
Governor Hollings came up to pay tribute and to president was
resting in the rotunda and of course he having been
such a strong supporter and really a friend of President
Kennedy and the family could really gone to the head of the
line instead he stood out there in the public all night long.Two
of his biggest accomplishments as governor were the creation
The South Carolina Educational Television Network and the
creation of the technical school system. Hollings squared
off against a successor Governor Donald Russell in the
primary for the remaining two years of the late senator Olin
Johnston’s term. For his first full Senate bid and the
remainder of his career Hollings campaigned on the creation of
the technical schools which brought major industry and jobs
to South Carolina. When I became governor the problem
was to get a job for the people today the task is to get people
for the jobs for this we must be skilled
we must prepare our people for the higher paying jobs here in
the south and expand vocational training to the high schools.
Elect Hollings to the United States Senate
Hollings defeated Russell in the primary but encountered a
tougher win in the general election against Republican
Marshall Parker As Hollings took office it was
a time of wars. A war on poverty and a war in Vietnam.
Hollings went on hunger tours of high poverty areas in the late
sixties and authored the book The Case Against Hunger a
demand for national policy in nineteen seventy he helped get
food stamps to South Carolinians and also co
authored legislation creating the WIC program in nineteen
seventy two. Well it is shocking that in nineteen sixty eight
they’re still this bad with the lowest per capita income state
second from the bottom there’s not a surprise at all that we do
have poverty but the housing conditions they are no less than
shocking. In Washington folks are trying to figure him out. Here is ETV’s
Jim Walsh from nineteen seventy seven Profile. The result was
always the same he fits no established political label
but the unpredictability of Ernest F. Fritz Hollings is
not a matter of inattention or carelessness it has developed
from his serious consideration of each issue before him one by
one merit by merit perhaps the dilemma of Hollings
observers is expressed by Ralph Nader’s citizens look at
Congress in matters of conservation and consumer
interests it says the South Carolinians mixed record shows
he adheres to neither one side nor the other but rather judges
each issue as it comes and votes to the occasional
disappointment of advocates of either side. Hollings was first
married in nineteen forty six and had four children he
divorced and married his second wife Peatsy in nineteen seventy
one she was always by his side she’d drive him to Capitol Hill
in travelled with him frequently she was also by his side when he
made a big announcement in nineteen eighty three. Senator
Ernest Hollings of South Carolina is tall white haired
shoulders back chin up a bit of a southern accent and now in
addition to all of that he is a candidate for president. I am
announcing today my candidacy for the presidency of the United
States but the road to the White House
ended for Hollings in New Hampshire in nineteen eighty
four. Frankly I think part of it was that he was a southerner
and I and I think that that that hurt. I don’t think it was
controlling but it it certainly wasn’t an advantage. Secondly
he is a maverick. In the midst of that campaign
he there were seven or eight
people running and everybody had their
solution for this and he said why don’t we freeze the budget?
And then that was one of the principal things that he that he advocated. Back in
Washington Hollings a strong fiscal conservative worked with
Republicans Phil Gramm and Warren Rudman to craft an
amendment to the debt ceiling bill to balance the budget
which president Ronald Reagan signed. I think this senator has
been a powerful voice for fiscal
sanity in this country and regrettably he’s one of
very few have consistently held that position over the years
remember that he was a co author of the
Gramm Rudman Hollings Deficit Reduction Act of nineteen
eighty five. That set the stage for a whole series of changes
which led to the rules in later budget documents which I
suspect were powerful force in reducing
the deficit and eventually creating a surplus.
He’s remembered for his environmental efforts and
helping create NOAA. His later years in the Senate focus on
lowering the deficit and sounding the alarm of the
offshoring of American jobs. He announced his retirement in
two thousand three. The truth of the matter is that since the
word has been out there that I’m not gonna run I’ve I done notice
all affection and kindness and young people are telling me
I’ve done a good job I’m getting sort of enthused about what I’ve
been doing. But they’re right it wouldn’t be easy for anybody
who’s a Democrat in this state to get elected. In two thousand
fifteen he had his name removed from the
federal courthouse in Charleston in favor of the late
Judge J. Waties Waring who made several
key civil rights rulings a ceremony was held in April two
thousand seventeen to unveil a statue of Hollings near the
courthouse and he gave his last public remarks. I’m ninety five
an over the hill and I’ve never been overwelmed, but you
got to be listening to these, the governor and the mayors Tecklenburg and Riley and all
the speakers. Fritz Hollings changed our state
and so we would be a different place. It was his idea to
technical education system
then he had to work as governor to get it to become law and set
it up but it was his idea the special schools that right now
are training the future Volvo workers that was Fritz Hollings’
idea and his work and so he was he was really the
pioneer for the modern day economic development boom that
exist in South Carolina and
he charted a course in our state of moderation.
Hollings died April sixth two thousand nineteen at the age of
ninety seven David Ballantyne spoke with me
two thousand seventeen about his new book New Politics in the
Old South Ernest F. Hollings in the Civil Rights Era.
Just tell me a little bit about what drove you to to write this
book. What was inspiration behind this book? Well I came to the subject from an
interest in a civil rights and African American politics so
I’d initially done undergrad and master’s level work looking
at Doug Wilder in Virginia who was the first elected
African American governor in the US in nineteen eighty nine
and then looking at a variety of African American campaigns
for statewide offices in the nineteen nineties. One of whom
was Harvey Gantt and Gantt was mayor of Charlotte in the
nineteen eighties but had also desegregated Clemson in
nineteen sixty three that’s when I first came across
Hollings who at least in the accounts that I’d read he
came across as somebody who took some credit for calling
for the state’s politicians to accept desegregation
peacefully and from that I became
interested in knowing how these white Democrats make this
transition from being part of a an openly white supremacist
party to one that’s much more favorable to racial minorities
how the Democratic Party of nineteen fifty became the
Democratic Party of today certainly of nineteen seventy
or seventy five and I thought Hollings was
a really good study and fortunately for me he’d very
recently retired and he’d very recently opened up his papers
which meant that there is a wealth of material to look at.
Can you just trace the arch of Fritz Hollings involvement in
civil rights issues and how his stances started out in changed
and what the motivation behind this changes in his stances
were? Fritz Hollings first won election as a state
representative in nineteen forty eight and he showed some
openness on race at the time although this is very limited
so he promoted the passage of a sales tax to help improve
segregated black schools in South Carolina in the early
nineteen fifties and he also supported the appointment of
African Americans to local boards. So that is a fairly low
bar of racial moderation but
comparing him to his peers he showed at least some some
signs that he was open on race early in his career
later when he spoke about his career he mentioned his service
in World War two and seeing how African American soldiers
weren’t able to eat in the same place as German prisoners of war
were although it’s obviously it’s much easier to look back
on your career forty or fifty years later and change your
motivations or persuade yourself, oh, that’s what you
think but in the nineteen fifties
the Brown decision the Brown V. Board of Education ruled that
segregated public schooling was unconstitutional
and all successful white South
Carolina politicians took a fairly extreme stance on this.
They announced it at the state level
the state legislature passed a great deal of anti civil rights
legislation trying to protect against the chance that schools
might become desegregated and Hollings went along with
that Hollings campaigned as a strong segregationist who
denounced Brown in nineteen fifty four for lieutenant
governor and again in nineteen fifty eight for governor
but as governor in the early nineteen sixties so his term as
governor was from nineteen fifty nine to sixty three he
showed some more openness. He argued heavily in his
campaign for governor that South Carolina needed an
energetic modernizing governor who would
go to different places like New York overseas to find new
industries to come to South Carolina and make its citizens
wealthier. And through that in promoting
industrial expansion Hollings
down plays racial issues compared to his processes
it’s hard to say whether his desire for economic growth
meant that he pursued a more moderate racial policy as
governor but the two were certainly consistent.
So Hollings was unusual as governor in that he strongly opposed violence but
if you compared him to suddenly Mississippi’s Ross Barnett
governor in the early nineteen sixties or the Alabama
governors in the early nineteen sixties
that set Hollings apart. He was fairly aware of potentially
racially violent incidents. He sought to avoid
them by cooperating closely with the state law enforcement
division SLED and by trying to make sure that
the responses to civil rights demonstrations were peaceful
wherever possible and this is largely successful
throughout his governorship so that knocks him out as
somewhat moderate on race but this was
focused for Hollings on preserving law rather than
considering the justice of anti segregation of civil rights
activists demands so typically Hollings argued that the safety
of the people is the supreme law that’s the phrase he used
to justify this and in doing so whether where
civil rights demonstrations or sit citizens
the protesters where arrested they went beaten up
with very few exceptions I should say but as a general
rule purchases were arrested and charged with breaching the
peace at this was no longer possible from nineteen sixty
three because the Supreme Court ruled that
you could no longer do that. Did you find out what maybe
helped drive that change in him to become more open to those
challenges on race and and mitigating the more so than his
southern counterparts? As governor
the desire for new industries certainly helped
push him towards a more moderate racial policy
I think also politicians could see
that racial segregation was not gonna be defendable forever
but most of them it continued to keep up this act as though
you can I’m that’s not particularly unusual among
politicians. Only very recently we talk about for
instance repealing Obamacare for, since two thousand and
ten until you get the chance to do so and then it becomes
unfeasible but Hollings prepared newspaper reporters in early nineteen sixty two
to prepare for desegregation of universities and schools and
told in and off the record a meeting told these newspaper
reporters to prepare their readers for this
as the final defenses legally against desegregated education
were going to form. Hollings did use in some sense
he used this industrialization push to push a more
moderate race for policy that would have otherwise been
possible and one place you can see this is the technical
education program. So this was one of Hollings’ patch projects
where it was a way of providing
specific education for workers and new industries and so they
would be able to do the jobs to managing of as soon as the
industry located in the state and the pitch was that your
then be allowed to start up in the black as a business so as a
way to attract new businesses to South Carolina
and make South Carolina more attractive than say North
Carolina or Georgia to come but these schools these centers
for technical education where never operated
on a segregated basis but this was
not advertised. So let’s revisit the topic about his his towards
through impoverished neighborhoods and the creation
of the SNAP program and how that again maybe contrast with
some other things he does and supports or does not support
later on such as school busing and in that back and forth that
odd dichotomy that he always seems to present going for his
career. Hunger and especially anti hunger programs in the
United States by the nineteen sixties were racially fraught
often support for anti hunger measures is interpreted as
support for black advancement. So in the south and in South
Carolina African Americans were disproportionately likely to be
poor Hollings often spoke about the
need in order to be successful in the Senate he repeated the
advice of this most prominent southern Democrat Richard
Russell who claimed that you needed two years to be a
statesman two to be a politician and the final two years of your
term you needed to be a demagogue. Having won reelection
in nineteen sixty eight Hollings
was in a statesman’s term. He was able to conduct hunger tours
in South Carolina he also acted as a star witness
for Senate testimony on the extent of domestic hunger
and he became a great advocate for much expanded spending on
the food stamp program later SNAP. He did so however and with
the argument that spending more
money on food stamps was in fact fiscally conservative. So
in his view, malnutrition at an early age
caused stunted mental growth which meant that malnourished
children were very likely to drop out of school and enter
the penal system he then argue from that that it’s cheaper to
feed the child than to jail the man
so he sought to present himself as this common sense realistic
South Carolina Democrat so he supported measures in
government that helps people like the food stamp program he
didn’t want to seem like he was spending too much of other
people’s money. In nineteen seventy four he’s but ten years
away from running for president but it seems like he maybe had
national aspirations sooner than eighty four tell me a
little about how he tracked from being in the Senate for a few
years and then now trying to you know better establish his
prominences his profile on the national stage.
Hollings had national ambitions early in his career. He was an
extremely successful politician at the state level by
conducting hunger tours while he suddenly believed it was a
morally appropriate thing to do this gave him something of a
national profile as an enlightened southern politician
who is willing to confront some of this troubled heritage in
the south around poverty and race. In the early nineteen seventies Hollings was one of
many politicians to be offered the vice presidential
nomination in nineteen seventy two during George McGovern’s
unsuccessful run for the presidency. He rejected it,
George McGovern was hugely unpopular as a politician in
South Carolina and the south so it was politically wise for him
to do so but Hollings did have
presidential ambitions and had considered a nineteen seventy
six presidential run but instead of running for
president Jimmy Carter another racially
enlightened southerner I did and won. Instead of running for president in nineteen seventy
six Hollings chose to run for the majority leadership in the
Senate which he doesn’t win looking forward to nineteen
eighty four Hollings decided in the early
nineteen eighties to run for president before doing this in
nineteen eighty two at the renewal of the Voting Rights
Act that year he had argued passionately
that a voting rights act was still necessary
and claimed that the legacy of racial discrimination in South
Carolina, the south made this a necessary act and this angered
his Senate colleague Strom Thurmond who
believe that senators shouldn’t speak back hardly about their
states no matter what. Thurmond claimed Hollings was
running for president through his comments on the Voting
Rights Act renewal and Hollings did run and launch his
presidential campaign in nineteen eighty three
he faced problems in terms of his civil rights
record and his campaign for the
presidential nomination and the N double A C P
in fact gave him an F. rating with A being the best
which was the same as Ronald Reagan and Ronald Reagan made
very few friends in the N double A C P and among other civil
rights organizations, so Hollings is legacy as a
former segregationist southern governor
haunted him and his effort to seem acceptable and in nineteen
eighty four presidential nomination battle. When
we look back and we look at the Fritz Hollings’ legacy where
does he fit in either American history or southern
history, whatever might be more relevant where where do we
see his legacy sitting and what is his legacy
represent in terms of advancing South Carolina? He sought to
achieve policy goals through his time as governor and
senator you can see his legacy in NOAA the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as
raft of environmental preservation legislation passed
in the nineteen seventies and also in anti hunger
assistance he had a very long career and had
numerous policy interests. Do we see anymore Fritz Hollings in
in the Senate anymore? I mean I know its broad question and
you have to speak for the entire country but maybe in
specifically looking at Lindsey Graham or Tim Scott I mean do we
do they, does anyone embody maybe some of those moderate
willing to work with others values I mean he was quite one
to twist arms and to work together with people on a
variety of issues bi partisan issues you know freezing the
government. Do we see to see that anymore and and the US
Senate? I think Hollings is politics is
disappearing from the US Senate in terms of finding a parallel
Lindsey Graham has some similarities in his occasional
willingness to to buck national Republican
leaders although I think the style of
politics that Hollings embodied of some cooperation between
Republicans and Democrats and viewing politics as a dirty
but necessary profession is is largely passed.
For continuing coverage of the life and death of Senator
Hollings visit for This Week In South Carolina I’m
Gavin Jackson

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