North Carolina civil rights center faces conservative ire

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A center founded at the University of North Carolina by a civil rights attorney to help the poor and disenfranchised is the latest institution to come under fire from conservatives seeking to leave their mark on the state's higher education system.

Attorney Julius Chambers survived firebomb attacks in the 1960s and 1970s as he fought segregation. Decades later, he founded the UNC Center for Civil Rights. Now conservatives on the policy-making board for the 16-campus system want to strip the center of its ability to file lawsuits, removing its biggest weapon.

Proponents say the move isn't ideological but that the center's courtroom work strays from the education mission of the country's oldest public university. Critics of the proposal say one of the South's leading civil rights institutions would be defanged.