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Charlotte Talks: North Carolina's Scott Family And The Era Of Progressive Politics

Kerr Scott campaign button from 1948 with his slogan "Go forward with Scott."
LearnNC and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, North Carolina Collection.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

A look at one of North Carolina’s influential political dynasties – The Scotts – and how their brand of rural progressivism has shaped state politics.

Newcomers to North Carolina may not be familiar with the Scotts. But this influential political dynasty helped usher in a new brand of progressive politics in a conservative state.

Family patriarch William Kerr Scott was a farmer who bucked the stereotype of white rural southerners to build a populist, progressive movement as North Carolina’s Governor – and he went on to become a U.S. Senator. His son Robert Scott also served as Governor and his granddaughter Meg Scott Phipps was Agriculture commissioner.

Credit Author photo credit to Robert T. Willett
Rob Christensen is author of "The Rise and Fall of the Branchhead Boys: North Carolina's Scott Family and the Era of Progressive Politics"

The Scott family is the subject of a new book from retired News & Observer political columnist Rob Christensen. He joins guest host Dr. Michael Bitzer to talk about the family’s legacy and state politics now.


Rob Christensen, retired political journalist and columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh and author of The Rise and Fall of the Branchhead Boys: North Carolina’s Scott Family and the Era of Progressive Politics. He is also the author of The Paradox of Tar Heel Politics.

Related event: Rob Christensen will speak at Park Road Books on Thursday, June 6th at 7:00pm. Details.

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Erin Keever is Senior Producer of WFAE's Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. She has been with the show since joining the station in 2006. She's a native Charlottean.