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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with I. Beverly Lake Sr., September 8, 1987. Interview C-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Unpromising forecast for North Carolina due to loss of local and white political solidarity

Lake takes a pessimistic view of North Carolina's political and regional future. He blames the population expansion of North Carolina cities on the destruction of local community bonds. Lake also criticizes compromising state legislators who abandon their political base in order to pander to largely black electorates, and counts the passage of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as an example. He instead advocates that whites vote along racial lines. In Lake's estimation, the decline of local community intimacy and white political solidarity leads to a bleak future for North Carolina.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with I. Beverly Lake Sr., September 8, 1987. Interview C-0043. 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

Where do you see North Carolina going in the future?
Well, it's always impossible to look very far into the future. I think that North Carolina will continue to develop as an industrial state. New industries, which you and I cannot now perceive, will be developed as the result of inventions which we've never dreamed of. I am concerned about the growth of many of our North Carolina communities. I think we're about bursting at the seams. I know we are in Raleigh, and I know we are in Wake Forest. The little town of Wake Forest today is a delightful place to live, or I wouldn't live in it. I have fine neighbors. The trouble is today that the Town of Wake Forest is about three times as large as it was when I was growing up. Consequently. I do not know a third of my neighbors, whereas I used to know practically everybody in town, white and black. That is a disadvantage, in my mind, of the development of this little community, and I think in the development of Raleigh. I went to Raleigh to practice in 1929. Within, I think, three months I had at least a speaking acquaintance with every lawyer in Raleigh because Raleigh was very small. We would meet each other on the streets, cafeteria for lunch, and we knew who we were. That carried over into our clashes in the court. We respected each other, and we liked each other. Of course, we had some we liked better than others. Today, there are so many lawyers in Raleigh, they haven't the faintest idea who's in the next office. They don't know each other. They don't know how to deal with each other in the courtroom which we knew how to do. Now to me the changes in the legal profession have taken, and I like to say, all the fun out of practicing law. Now, I use fun in the broad sense, pleasure. I think that there is not today the former close relationship and concern between the average lawyer and the average client. They don't know each other as individuals. I'm sure, the more I observe, that that is probably even more true of the medical profession. My very dear friend--my present wife's former husband, George Mackie, who died about twenty years ago--was genuinely beloved by all the people in this area, country and town, a great doctor. He had the opportunity to go up and be one of the "Main Line" Philadelphia social doctors, and he would have done well up there and prospered greatly. He preferred to be a country doctor in North Carolina. The people in this area remember him as "The Great and Beloved Physician." Now, there is a man who was a real success, who left his son a heritage which will never rust or fade away. I should like to be remembered somewhat comparably. I don't know where North Carolina's heading. With all due respect to the members of the last Legislature. I thought the performance of the Legislature was a disgrace. I have a letter sent to me by a friend from a man who was prominent in politics in North Carolina and still carries a great deal of weight. The man to whom that letter was sent was critical of the Legislature for making the birthday of Martin Luther King a state holiday. I also think it's a disgrace to have a state holiday for a man of deplorable character like Martin Luther King. It bothers me. This former legislator and prominent lawyer was defending that action. He said, "I think it was disgraceful to make Martin Luther King's birthday a holiday in North Carolina. But I must remember that the eastern counties of North Carolina politically lie in the hands of the Negro block vote. Any legislator from eastern North Carolina who had not voted for that would not have been re-elected." I don't think that's right. Now this man said the remedy is, "You've got to get the white people out to vote as white people." Now that's different from my position originally. But you see, you're in danger of racial crisis and discord. It's not gone.
No sir.
And he said, "You've got to be elected." I say that I was ashamed of that statement. A man who has held high office in North Carolina said that he would vote contrary to his moral principles and his belief as to what's good for North Carolina in order to be re-elected to the Legislature. Now, when we've got legislators who are imbued with that philosopy of politics, I am concerned for the future of our State and the happiness of our people of both races.