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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Martha W. Evans, June 26, 1974. Interview A-0318. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Changing role of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce

Evans describes the changing role of the Chamber of Commerce in the local politics of Charlotte, North Carolina, from the late 1950s into the early 1970s. Evans explains why she herself had been a member of the Chamber, although she expresses her discontent that they did little to recognize the contributions of executive women in Charlotte. The passage concludes with her assertion that the Chamber had lost its considerable power within the community by the time of the interview, having been replaced by the Central Piedmont Industries, although she does not extensively explain why the transition of power occurred.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Martha W. Evans, June 26, 1974. Interview A-0318. 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

WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
If we may, let's sort of take the general view, you might say, of Charlotte, and try to identify sort of some of the competing groups or the competing blocs. Like, for instance, how powerful do you think the Chamber of Commerce is, this sort of thing?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Well, I'm the wrong person for you, at that part, because I was a member….
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Then, what is your view, then, of… ?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
I was a member for a long… for a good many years. But I was a member because I thought they were a reputable organization, and I liked what they were trying to do. But never once did they recognize the fact that we had a lot of executive women here, and they weren't giving us a fair show, and so some of us just pulled out. And my company didn't pay my way, as most of the men function. You see, most of the companies pay a company membership and then send so many men. But some of us who were trying to work through them, paid our own way.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
And what is your business?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Well, right now I'm forced… to be at home because my husband's il (whispering) I have to be home because of him… I won't be able to see him. I don't want him to hear my voice.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Okay. Well, to the Chamber then. Does the Chamber…. A lot of folks say, you know, the Chamber's the most powerful group in the town.
MARTHA W. EVANS:
No, the Chamber is not the most powerful group, except that it gathers together the money group, and I think the money group has to learn that the people that make the money for them are important.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Do you… it was said at one time that in the late fifties or early sixties that for getting something done in Charlotte, it was more important to be president of the Chamber than to be mayor of the city.
MARTHA W. EVANS:
That's right.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Do you agree with….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
That's right.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Do you think it's still that important?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
No, I think the Chamber has been reduced in stature considerably.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Is this because of other groups sort of coming in?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
That's right.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Would this include the blacks and… ?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
No, I think Central Piedmont Industries has more clout than the Chamber now. Do you know that organization?
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
That's sort of the industrial organization?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
That's right.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Does that actively recruit candidates for the local elections?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
No. But it does support.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
And those that it supports…
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Usually make it.