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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Harriet Gentry Love, June 17, 1998. Interview K-0171. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Memories of West Charlotte as part of the community

Like many young people in Charlotte, Love felt herself drawn to West Charlotte High School and eagerly anticipated the day when she would enroll there. Not only was the rivalry between West Charlotte and other area schools fodder for competition, but the ties between West Charlotte and Charlotte's African American community were quite strong. The connections between the school and the community revealed themselves along Love's walk to school in the mornings. In describing her idyllic walk, Love reveals that the city of Charlotte did not provide a school bus for African American students.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Harriet Gentry Love, June 17, 1998. Interview K-0171. 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: That's really interesting. Did you always know that you were going to go to West Charlotte High School? Was that something that everybody in your neighborhood did? HL: Yes. We knew, and we looked forward to it. I went to Fairview School in Greenville. When you left Fairview School, you knew you were going to Northwest, which was the first West Charlotte. And then when you left Northwest, you were to go to West Charlotte. There was never any thought of anything else other than going to West Charlotte. We always had an ongoing feud with Second Ward High School, which there is no more Second Ward. I'm thinking it's coming to the point where some of us have lied about how many games we won or how many games they won because--but we have embraced them because there is no longer a Second Ward, and that was a part of our rich heritage also. We had so much fun, and we would walk, save our bus money, and walk over to Second Ward for a game, and then walk back to the downtown. And the bus fare probably wasn't anymore than a dime. But it was entertainment for us, and it helped us branch out and meet other people, other than the people in our neighborhoods. But still in the neighborhood, you kept that closeness between the church and the school and the neighborhood. It was always close; you always knew someone; you always had someone to turn to, those kinds of things. PG: Were there connections between the churches and the schools? HL: Yes. Many of the church members attended West Charlotte where I went to church, C.N. Jenkins Presbyterian. But at the time, it was called Brandon Presbyterian, and it was in Greenville. Many of my church members were graduates of West Charlotte. I think people were--not everyone was poor. I was poor. But people were able to give something to West Charlotte--I get Johnson C. Smith in here--they were able to share things. Sometimes if there were games, maybe a person in the neighborhood would take a truckload of kids to the game. Maybe they didn't have children. Different little things. So, yes, I believe they were a part and very proud of it. Many of our neighbors did not go to school at all in North Carolina. They may have been from South Carolina or whatever. And many of them didn't have twelve years of education. But they were still in favor of us having it. I walked to school not because I had to but because we wanted to. We wanted to save our money and stop by this little store and get a pickle or whatever else you wanted, some junk. On your way to school, you were going to see people that you really knew and knew your family, all the way to school and all the way back. So it was sort of a protection there, in some way. PG: How long a walk was it? HL: When you're young, it's not long. It would take us about fifteen or twenty minutes. Not flying, just walking a nice brisk walk. It would be a group. It could be a group of four, five, ten, fifteen kids, just depending. On bad days, we would catch the bus. The bus would carry you to school for ten cents. You would ride the bus. But on pretty days, we would walk. Just about everyday, we walked home.