Local Politics

Name of big Democratic dinner leaves some with a bad taste

Posted October 5, 2007
Updated October 5, 2008

— The biggest fundraiser of the year for state Democrats will happen Saturday in Asheville, the Vance-Aycock Dinner.

One of its namesakes was Charles Aycock, who was elected governor in 1900. However, a man running for governor said Friday that the name needs to go because Aycock was a racist.

Aycock grew up on a farm north of Goldsboro, now a state historic site. A museum tells of the man's life – the laudable and the lamentable.

“Well, we do address the white supremacy issue in our exhibit area,” said Leigh Strickland, museum manager.

The exhibit names Aycock among Democrats who made speeches to "scare blacks away" from politics – speeches that led to the fatal Wilmington race riots of 1898.

Also in the museum, a white supremacy campaign button and troublesome sketches about a man revered as the education governor.

But Aycock has been hailed over the past century as North Carolina's "Education Governor." He's credited for building 1,100 schools during his four years in office. He has a statue at the state capitol. And the Aycock birthplace is a state historic site off U.S. 117 in Wayne County.

Some believe his racist rhetoric overshadows all that.

One of the Democratic candidates for the gubernatorial nomination, state Treasurer Richard Moore, has called on his party to remove the Aycock name from its yearly fundraising dinner. A party spokeswoman said it would be a collective decision.

"When you read Gov. Aycock's speeches and understand the full, unvarnished history, the only conclusion is that he fought against the principles that the Democratic Party stands for," Moore wrote in a news release this week.

Kerra Bolton, with the State Democratic Party, said the party should be allowed to decide what it wants to call its statewide event.

Locals at the Capitol Cafe in Fremont, just up the road from the Aycock home place, called the whole thing petty politics.

"I just think it's the pits, I just think it's uncalled for," said Charlotte Aycock, whose husband is a descendant of the governor. "It's like pulling something out of a pit that has been buried. It's so unnecessary because he was very much in favor of all children."

Buena Vista Boyland lived in Wayne County as a child and is related to Aycock's descendants.

"And I was always proud to have the Aycock name in my family, and to hear it denigrated at this point kind of follows a trend that's happening all over the country – looking for the negative,” she said. “I think it’s untimely (and) unnecessary, and it’s political.”

Party officials said the dinner doesn't honor Aycock. The name is used out of respect for tradition. The party plans to bring up the name change idea at its next meeting in January.

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  • atozca Oct 7, 2007

    Gosh, wonder what Edwards thinks about this? LOL

  • Sassy Beaver BRB Oct 7, 2007

    This is history. It was also in the 1900's for crying out loud.

    When you actually take the time to read some facts about this, there are good and bad. He was noted for supressing blacks in politics, but also on a mission to increase education in our society. Orr's book about Ay(rooster) indicated he was responsible for the Wilmington Race Riots, however there is not substantial evidence to link the two. There is more to this story, but of course as a society we only look at the surface.

    His efforts for education should be honored, however you cannot pick and choose what you want out of a person, it is the total package. If you cannot accept his efforts to supress the African Americans, then remove his name, he was not alone in that boat. Why discredit his efforts-will it make them go away?
    If they want to remove Ay(rooster)'s name, then let them. Next story.

  • Dick Oct 7, 2007

    Mr. Ay_ock was a fine man and a credit to whites everywhere. I once knew a white person...or was it an albino?

  • Blessyourheart Oct 6, 2007

    "--why moan about a man who lived 100 or so years ago??"

    Because there has to be someone to blame for all of the injustice and inequality.

  • shep8851 Oct 6, 2007

    I continue to be amazed at some people. Wanting to remove the name of Charles B. Aycok ( intentionally misspelled due to the censorship police) from a Democratic fundraiser. He was Governor in 1900- like it or not, segregation, racism, discrimination were the social norm in those days. He did nothing out of the ordinary. If this inane pettiness is going to be taken this far, why not complain about Thomas Jefferson's name being used in the Jefferson-Jackson Day event? Why not cancel any recognition of George Washington?? Jefferson and Washington both owned slaves--Jefferson sired an illegitimate child with one of his slaves--Sally Hemmings. Racist he may have been, but Aycok did not own any slaves--why moan about a man who lived 100 or so years ago??

  • Huey Oct 6, 2007

    Well, my respect and admiration for Richard Moore just took a
    flying leap out the window. I thought he might make a good
    governor after the fine way he handled the state employee's
    retirement funds. But this shows he is just another politician
    who will do anything for votes.

  • USN Vet Oct 6, 2007

    Let the history scrubbing and rewriting begin.

  • TexasKate Oct 6, 2007

    FlSunshine go take a philosophy course at a CC. If one applies racism to a 100-yr old event, it follows that one may apply racism to a 2000-yr old event. In short, distressed communities need to address current internal issues instead of hyping a historical event for diversion.

  • whocares Oct 6, 2007

    I agree if you don't like the name of the dinner then don't go, and as far as money goes just say "NO". I am sure that there were quite a few Republicans that were "racist" 100 years ago besides Democrats.

  • wralfan Oct 6, 2007

    The dinner honors Governor AycoK simply by the fact it WAS NAMED IN HIS HONOR.

    How dumb can be be? (That was rhetorical, after electing the Bush gang twice, I KNOW how dumb people can be).

    FYI to WRAL - You may want to take the filter of the combo of letters that ARE PART OF THE SUBJECT in a story that is receiving comments. How stupid this site is.

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