Terry Sanford and the New South

Documentary tells the story of how the Duke president helped to change the region

Terry Sanford with his wife Margaret Rose celebrates a political victory. To watch a clip from the film, click here. (Real Player)

Come view the broadcast premiere of "Terry Sanford and the New South," a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Thomas Lennon that examines how Sanford, a former North Carolina governor and Duke president, pushed his vision for the New South, winning major new programs in education and economic investment and influencing progressive Southern politics. The film will be broadcast regionally at 9 p.m.Wednesday, April 4, on WUNC-TV with a special showing of the film at the Sanford Institute's Fleishman Commons. (To watch a clip from the film, click here.)

The showing at the Sanford Institute will be preceded at the event by the showing of a 30-minute panel discussion of Sanford's legacy taped in 2006 at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and featuring former N.C. Governor Jim Hunt and others. Reception begins at 7 p.m.

"Terry Sanford and the New South" features interviews with vice presidential candidate John Edwards, former Gov. James B. Hunt, civil rights leader Vernon Jordan and Sanford's wife, Margaret Rose Sanford. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Richard Ben Cramer narrates the film.

"During my campaign for president and vice president I was asked a number of times who my political hero was," said John Edwards in "Terry Sanford and the New South." "And my answer was Terry Sanford. Very few people outside of North Carolina knew who I was talking about -- [b]ut that's because his story hasn't been told."

Once in office, Sanford charmed and cajoled an all-white, mostly rural, deeply conservative legislature as he pushed his vision for a New South. In 1962-63, as the civil rights movement came to a boil, Sanford grew increasingly outspoken. The film charts the emergence of this back-slapping, cigar-smoking Southern white politician as a forceful agent of racial change. Four days after Ala. Gov. George Wallace famously called for "Segregation now -- segregation forever," Sanford replied, "The time has come for American citizens to quit unfair discrimination, and to give the Negro a full chance to earn a decent living for his family and to contribute high standards for himself and for all men."

By the time Sanford's term ended, he'd delivered IBM to North Carolina, waged war on poverty, hiked the minimum wage and created a model for Head Start.

After he left office, he forged a new career in education as president of Duke, where he created the school's public policy program. He later served as a U.S. senator (1987-1993) and launched two failed bids for the U.S. presidency.

"Terry Sanford and the New South" is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York, co-produced in association with Duke University and the Center for Documentary Studies, and in association with Thomas Lennon Films and UNC-TV.