Need for cultural and racial diversity at West Charlotte
In this excerpt, Hamlin discusses his hopes for the future of West Charlotte High School. In short, West Charlotte is "too black" and Hamlin hopes it will become more culturally diverse, and more successful, as time passes. He hopes that in the long run the school's accomplishments will eclipse race.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with William Hamlin, May 29, 1998. Interview K-0169. 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
PG: I wish more people would have that attitude. That’s unique. What’s your hope for West Charlotte in the future?
WH: I really want to see the balance of the student population more reflective of the general society. I think one of the--. What I’m saying is that I think West Charlotte is too black now and that’s going to hurt in the long run. I would like to see the lines for populating that school rejoined so that it can be more inclusive and can be more multi-cultured. I don’t want West Charlotte to be a black school. I know that if it’s going to survive it can’t be a black school. And, I mean from the standpoint that the student body is a majority black and increasing. If you don’t have buy-in from all over the community, in general, people sooner or later are going to say, “You know.” And, this is based on historical deep-seated hidden beliefs that it was all black and it’s not going to be too good. And I think that we have to play that out. That’s not to say that something all black isn’t good. But when you deal with those kinds of attitudes and those kinds of beliefs my hope is really that we dismiss that. We dismiss the racial--. That we make it more culturally diverse. So, I really would like to see the numbers change. And, I think that will enhance. That’s what my initial hope, numerically, is. But, from an institutional standpoint, ten to fifty years out I want kids to continue to be standing in line to go to West Charlotte because they know it’s the best. Not best because it’s got the best athletics. It’s the best offering. And, that’s the feeling that I had. I’m sorry. I had that feeling when my kids were in high school. I just felt that we had the best. When you consider the fact that out of a graduating class you may have students who may gather in excess of $11,000,000 worth of scholarships in a year and nobody in the school system is competing with that. When you consider that fact that you see a line of athletes who have gone through West Charlotte and are now in the professional ranks. When you consider the fact that you had musicians who are now making the occupation who have come through West Charlotte. My hope is that ten to fifteen years out from there that people will still have--. I knew it was the best then and I know it is the best now. Why? Because they’ve got the track record and because, more than anything else, I feel a part. I really feel a part of that situation. It’s a medal on one’s chest when you look in Sunday’s paper and you see how many graduating classes are having reunions. What is that saying? Kids and students that went there want to have the opportunity to get together again. They had a positive experience. You watch the paper if you get a chance. When they list the reunions see how many are classes who graduated from West Charlotte compared to other schools. Have you had the opportunity to look at that? Take a look at that. I don’t know what the numbers are. I’m close to it because I’m part of the alumni association and I hear, “The class of this is having a reunion. The class of this--.” I hear it all the time. It may be that we have a structure by which we get that information. But, I’m also seeing it played out in the daily news and announcements going out. And, when you have people who have been out of school ten, fifteen, twenty, and in some regards, fifty or fifty-five years, and they say, “Hey, I still want to get together with folks who went to high school with me.” That’s saying we really enjoyed our experiences there. And I want that same kind of activity to carry on in the future. And you won’t look at the class and say, “Was John Jones a black or was he white?” You’ll forget what he was because you had such a good time with your schoolmates that race really wasn’t an issue. That’s sort of my hope. That may sound like a utopian dream but that’s something that I hope personally.