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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Charles M. Lowe, March 20, 1975. Interview B-0069. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Racial dimension of the consolidation debate

Lowe discusses the racial aspect of the consolidation debate. He agrees with the interviewer that consolidation's opponents might have capitalized on racism and wonders if proponents should have done the same thing, perhaps threatening voters with the specter of black majorities in cities.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Charles M. Lowe, March 20, 1975. Interview B-0069. 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

Let me ask you this, now. You've implied, stated it, in fact, and other people have commented on this, that it seems that the opposition got the better part of the emotional issue. Perhaps, to some extent, the pro forces, the for forces, preached the economy, the efficiency, the more representative, the more equitable government. Fairly logical arguments. Only to get hit over the head by all this talk about "ward-heelers" and "going back to the ward system" which seemed to be, perhaps, code words for saying "there are going to be more blacks and maybe more poor whites in government and we don't want that". It seems that the opposition, then, got up…As you were saying, it's much easier to got people to go to vote against, or people are more likely to go to vote against than to vote for. You think that's a… Was there anything that the supporters could have used as an emotional sort of thing?
I think we could have, looking back. I don't know. Maybe we should have. Maybe we should have been direct and blunt, even though it would have dismayed some of our followers, and said, "Look, if you all sit here and do what we're talking about or you're talking about doing, you're going to defeat this. But, one day, you're going to look up, and you're going to have practically an all black center city. The whites are going to have moved out. Your tax base has eroded. You're going to have blacks running the government. The whites are going to be gone. We're going to be in the suburbs. They're going to be in the city. Is this what you really want? Do you want Charlotte to be another Atlanta?" I think maybe if we had presented it on this basis, maybe we'd have had a lot of support and a lot of understanding that we didn't have. Maybe we should have said this, in looking back, even though I thought at the time and so did the people who were with us that this was the wrong way to sell it. But, maybe it wasn't. Maybe it was the right way to sell it. Maybe the truth would have been the thing to have told. We would have come a whole lot closer, and we might have won.