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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Allen Bailey, [date unknown]. Interview B-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Concentrations of power influence renewal projects

Power in Charlotte is concentrated in the hands of real estate developers and the head of the Chamber of Commerce, says Bailey. This concentration may have resulted in an urban renewal project that failed to compensate dislocated businesses and caused some resentment in the community.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Allen Bailey, [date unknown]. Interview B-0066. 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

You said that there had been some resentment about the urban renewal in the downtown. Is there any sort of organized resistance, somebody like Albert Pearson or somebody like that . . . I mean, is there any organized group?
Yeah. In the downtown, in the business community downtown, there was some organized resistance led by Albert Pearson and some of the others. I do not know that this was resistance against the program as much. I think it was resistance against, I know it was resistance against some of the smaller merchants being ejected without compensation or plans made for their relocation.
They saw the bigger interests as the ones who were profiting (B: Yes.) and they were, to some extert losing (B: Yes, I think this was true.). How would you characterize . . . Who makes the decisions in Charlotte? Is there a power, this is sort of a political science question . . . is there such a thing as a cohesive power structure, real estate interests or something like that controls to any extent?
Well, I'd say there is a strong cohesive real estate lobby, if you will, or power structure. I do not know that they themselves wield a great deal of influence. I'm sure they do some. It's always been felt that here in Charlotte the Chamber of Commerce exercised a greater influence, I believe, on local government than most people felt that they should. All of the people that we're talking about, the real estate folks and people of this nature, by and large, are members of the Chamber of Commerce, and I think there is probably where the input is . . .
At one time it was said that it was more important if a man really wanted to do something in Charlotte that he be president of the Chamber . . . that is was more important to be president of the Chamber than to be mayor of the city.
I think probably that this still remains true to some extent. I know that time has been in this city that unless you were a member of that august body or at least subservient to it that you, your chances of political success were not as good as otherwise. I have a feeling that, to some extent that is, the political influence of the Chamber of Commerce. . . . I have a feeling that it has probably eroded some in the last few years due to, I think, a more independency of mind of the average voter. I don't think he any longer relies upon the word from the Chamber or the word from the media to make up his mind about what he wants to do. I think he does his own thinking, votes what he wants to more than ever before.