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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 >>

Black candidates need to appeal to white and black audiences

Michaux speculates on Howard Lee's electoral chances as North Carolina lieutenant governor. After serving as the first black mayor in a largely white southern city, Howard Lee knew how to articulate white needs. Michaux comments on the need for black electoral candidates to appeal to white audiences in order to be seen as a viable candidate.

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

Is Howard Lee acceptable throughout the black community as a state-wide candidate?
I think so, yes. I don't think there's any doubt about that.
Well, if he runs for lieutenant governor, which is rumored and which he doesn't deny an interest in, what will be the effect of that?
I think it will have a great effect on increasing total registration and increasing total participation among black community.
What do you think would be his chances of winning?
It depends. I can give you an example. In this last campaign for the senatorial campaign and the attorney general's race, I travelled in about 65 counties in the state speaking primarily to white audiences. I think I spoke to two totally black audiences all during that period of time. Supporting the Democratic ticket. And I was invited to these groups. People come to me and say "We hope we get an opportunity to vote for you some time in the future." I think the attitudes are changing all over. This was in the east and in the west. Voter attitudes are changing. And I think that Howard has a pretty doggone good chance. I'm basing that on my experience and what I have heard. When I was in this race for the attorney general-you know, there were eight of us in there-had we not committed ourselves-a lot of it you can write off and a lot you take serious-had we not committed ourselves, we think that you would have been our choice. Well, admittedly I got into the race late, but I wanted to get in and feel the water, feel what it was like. The responses that I received indicated to me that there are people who are changing, that there are people who are willing to work for a viable candidate, whether he be black or white. It just so happens that I'm black. But I seem to articulate, or have articulated, some of the needs of whites. So I'm looked upon not necessarily as a black legislator but as a legislator who represents my constituency. And this is the same thing with Howard. Howard is in the same type situation.