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Oral History Interview with Martha W. Evans, June 26, 1974. Interview A-0318. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Martha W. Evans was politically active in Charlotte, North Carolina, during the 1960s and 1970s, when that community was undergoing rapid growth and consolidation. After serving as the first woman elected to city council there, Evans made two unsuccessful bids to become mayor of Charlotte (1959 and 1961) before being elected as a Democrat to the North Carolina General Assembly in 1962. She served one term in the House and two terms in the Senate. In this interview, Evans discusses the evolution of local politics during this period of exceptional growth in Charlotte. She offers her perspective on organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and Central Piedmont Industries; on various local leaders, including mayors Stanford Berkshire (1961-1969) and John Belk (1969-1977); and the role of the African American, Greek, and Jewish communities in local political developments. As Charlotte grew during these years, the city developed a reputation "as the big, fat, rich cat of the state," argues Evans. She discusses the tensions between local and state politics and explains how those tensions manifested themselves in various disputes, including Charlotte's attempt to establish a medical school in the city. Evans concludes the interview by forcefully asserting that despite her liberal politics and pioneering success in politics, she never aligned herself with the modern women's liberation movement, which she saw as detrimental to the ability of Democratic women to form a viable group. The interview in its entirety offers a revealing look at the economic, social, and cultural factors of local and state politics during this era.
    Excerpts
  • Changing role of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce
  • Bid for mayor in 1961 and campaign opposition
  • Various campaigns at the local and state level
  • Comments on John Belk and community growth
  • Tensions between local and state politics
  • Opposition to women's liberation
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.