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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with H. M. Michaux, November 20, 1974. Interview A-0135. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Relevance of the black vote

Michaux explains his strategy to win a state election. While the black vote could not elect a candidate alone, it could swing an election.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with H. M. Michaux, November 20, 1974. Interview A-0135. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Did you campaign differently in the white community the last time than the first three times?
No. I may have campaigned more in the white community than I did the prior three times. I concentrated my efforts in the white community. In '72, for instance, I had entrees to civil clubs, to garden clubs, to all types of people in the white community. And as a result I used those contacts that I had to do that. Not neglecting the black community at all. Because irrespective of the fact that I was a black candidate, I still had to go get the black vote. I couldn't take it for granted. I could never take it for granted. Because it could kill me just as well as it could kill somebody else, kill off somebody else. See, the black vote can't elect anybody. We can doggone sure swing that vote. What it is is just a swing vote. Look at Ike Andrews' '72 race against Jack Hawk. Ike won by 1,100 votes. We concentrated our efforts on Ike. As a result, that 1,100 votes came basically from the black community here in Durham. He had solid black support. This is one reason, I guess, why Ike now says that Durham has sort of adopted him. When Jack Hawk challenged the vote, the only vote that was challenged was the vote in the black precincts in Durham county. Nowhere else. And they couldn't overturn it, so Ike went on and won by 1,100.
In round numbers, what is the black vote in Durham county?
The black vote could be 14 to 16,000. I don't say that we turn out that many. It's very obvious that we don't turn out that many. We turn out in many instances 60 to 65 percent of the vote. In a good year, we can turn out 85 percent of the vote. But I'd say we average about 60 to 65 percent of that vote. And when you compare it on the same level as the white vote, then we're far above the average white voter turn out. Percent of registered voters.