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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 >>

Tensions between local and state politics

Evans discusses the reputation of Charlotte, North Carolina, in state politics, arguing that Charlotte had been caricatured as "the big, fat, rich cat of the state." After briefly reflecting on how these tensions related to issues of taxation, Evans discusses specifically how various efforts of Charlotte to get a medical school in conjunction with their branch of the University of North Carolina was wrapped up in more complicated local and state political tensions.

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

So I want to get to that also, because I want to get to some mention of the medical school situation. Seems like Charlotte has had… there are a lot of people, at least in that part of the state, who look upon Charlotte with something with something less than great favor….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Ha! They treat Mecklenburg County as the big, fat, rich cat of the state. And they resent it. And I understand it and have to play around it. When I want something passed by the people from that part of the state.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
O.K., let me ask you this, the argument is sometimes made that maybe Charlotte really isn't handling its own, you know, really doing its own work at home.
MARTHA W. EVANS:
No, but they take our money. They want all our money and nothing in return. They don't want to give us anything in return. We pay more taxes than any other county in the state.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Which to some extent then, brings us through to the medical school question. For a second let's not get into the East Carolina question, but why… I realize that Memorial Hospital is very definitely affiliated with the University Hospital at Chapel Hill, there have been attempts, on occassion anyway, to get a med school or medical center here at Charlotte….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
No, there has not. We have never asked for a medical school in connection with the University, because we have never been in a position where we thought we were strong enough and big enough to have it. I wish we had, I wish we had.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Was there an attempt back in the forties and fifties when there was discussion of extending the Chapel Hill from two to four to get the med school here in Charlotte?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
I believe so.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Is there some ill will to some extent over the fact that Charlotte didn't get it then?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Well, there's no ill will, it was the fact that we were not at a University level, our colleges are first rate colleges, contrary to some people's thinking. Queen's is first rate for women, Davidson's for men, but they are not state supported and we had no state supported institution untill we got UNC-C in '65.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
And then there was, a bill came up, I guess in '63, to establish a study commission to investigate the feasibility of another med school, concentrating on Charlotte, but to investigate other areas as well.
MARTHA W. EVANS:
The whole state.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Was there imput, was there a great desire and organization in Charlotte to seek this med school, to get out and fight for it and get it?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
No.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
How do you account for that?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
We were busy building up Memorial Hospital as a training center. And it is.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
And it was not connected with….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Not connected with the University.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Not connected with getting a med school itself?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
We have never gone out wholeheartedly to get a med school. This portion of the interview is closed until the year 2000 A.D. at the request of Martha Evans.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
But they also got it because they organized and….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Yeah, Eastern Carolina people have one faculty that Mecklenburg and the west doesn't have. East Carolina, the whole region, sends the same person year after year to the legislature. They gain seniority and support important chairmanships and with that, then they try to control the vote, and they do. But we put up a delegation and the next year, you may have more than half of it out of the way.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
If that is a political fact of life, why do Mecklenburg and the western counties continue to do this?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
I wish that I knew the answer. The point here is that people that I have been and have tried to encourage to run, are reluctant because they are not willing to take the caustic criticism of the Knight publishing company and of the media. Why should they do this when they can stay at home and live at home and make a contribution to the community?
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Once they get down there and get involved and get their name in the newspapers and get calls all hours of the day and night….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Yeah.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
One thing that I recall, we are almost to the time….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Well, I had set you up for tomorrow noon on my calendar.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Well, this is fine. I've gotten just about everything. As I recall, Dr. Davis, from Kinston, during one of the discussions in, I think, '63… because I think that a Dr. James from….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Hamlet.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Was he the one that put in that bill to establish that commission, I believe in '63? And she said, "If we put a med school down in Charlotte, the people in South Carolina are going to be the ones…." Is that, I mean, geographical location, is that one thing that has hurt Charlotte in the state legislature?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
No, I think that it is a tremendous jealousy. It is basically greed and jealousy on the part of East Carolina, its president, its staff as opposed to Charlotte. He couldn't get far in Charlotte, and he knows it.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Let me ask you another question along that same line….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
And what is he going to do with the med school? He hasn't got any patients. This is where the concentration of population is. He can't get patients or doctors for….
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
This brings up the question, why hasn't, you know, if this is where the patients are, why….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Why not put it here?
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Right. So, why hasn't Charlotte fought to get it?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Well, we are trying to build up the University to the point where….
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
And then….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
And then do it. Because we got the University on the basis of local support, local and financial support.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
O.K., well, speaking of eastern Carolina as more or less a bloc, it seems that Charlotte is hurt, to some extent, because…I mean, there's Greensboro and Winston-Salem, and then there's Asheville and it hasn't been able to develop a region….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Regional concept. We did have western Carolina breakfast meetings once a week for awhile in one session, but they are much more independent here than they are down there. Independent of each other. Because you see, when you go back through the history of this thing, they took, lopped off, and they gave the county here a big area, they cut themselves down, but they gave other people….
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
They split into a smaller county to keep a senator down there while creating a senator. up here.
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Yes.