Looking forward to attending West Charlotte
Love, like so many West Charlotte alumni, remembers anticipating attending West Charlotte from a young age. Love was particularly young when he realized he wanted to go to West Charlotte: the son of alumni, as a toddler he thumbed through West Charlotte yearbooks like they were family photo albums. To Love, West Charlotte symbolized pride, belonging, and ownership long before he understood what these attributes were.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with John Love, February 17, 1999. Interview K-0172. 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
PAMELA GRUNDY: This is Pamela Grundy, and I am here interviewing John W. Love, Jr., in Charlotte, North Carolina, and we are talking about West Charlotte High School, and it is the seventeenth of February, 1999. Well, John, I just thought I would start by asking you what is your first memory of West Charlotte? I know your parents went there.
JOHN LOVE: Oh my goodness. What is my first memory of West Charlotte ? I would have to say my earliest memory of the school is long before I ever even was of age to go to the school, because my parents went to West Charlotte and aunts and uncles went to West Charlotte, and, obviously, my parents’ closest and dearest friends went to West Charlotte, and my parents were, and still are, very, very social. Big picture takers, the whole bit. My first real memories of West Charlotte are actually from the yearbooks that my parents had. I always looked through those, and I always flipped through those, and considering the fact that I was born my parents’ senior year of high school, it’s like my memories of West Charlotte and the whole vibe of West Charlotte, and what that all means is so entrenched in who and what I am, from the very beginning. So cognitively, I would have to say it’s from at a very early age me flipping through the yearbooks of West Charlotte Senior High School with the same fervor and excitement that you flip through family albums. And, what, two, three years old?
PG: That is an early period of time. When you say sort of the vibe of West Charlotte as being part of you, can you describe that?
JL: You know it’s really interesting because when I think about the African American community at large, or people of the African Diaspora, the history, the culture,
in so many ways is so dissipated. And it’s so much about putting pieces together in order to create a through line, as opposed to an emotional/psychological through line that just exists from being there. And so when I talk about the vibe of West Charlotte, West Charlotte as a high school is pretty entrenched in the community that it’s in, and I come from that community and my parents come from that community and the whole west side kind of thing. So, really the vibe of West Charlotte is really about pride, and it’s about a real sense of pride. It’s about a sense of belonging, a real sense of belonging. It’s about a real sense of ownership in something in your community. And schools when they’re at their best are actually about achievement. So you’ve got more than a symbol. You’ve got like a living kind of ritual, or living shrine to achievement and then to the achievement of a people, and then to the achievement of a very specific group of people in a very specific community in a very specific part of the country, and it goes on and on and on like that. So, not to be clichéd, but it’s actually about pride, and on a deep, deep level, pride and belonging.
PG: Is this something that you thought about at the time you were going to the school, or is this something you’ve come to think about later as you’ve reflected back?
JL: We all knew that we were lucky to be there, and for most of us we knew that we were going to go to West Charlotte, because there were people in different parts on the west side of Charlotte, which is basically African American that were bussed to different schools and that kind of thing. But there were also people that did whatever they could so that they could be, or that their address could look that it was in the right neighborhood to go to West Charlotte, and so we knew that we were fortunate to be there. And the school has always grown with the community in very interesting ways, too, with the whole bussing thing, and integration thing, and all of that. And all of that happened when I was in junior high school. But we heard about it, and I had, once again, my uncle was there during that time. At the time we knew that we were a part of a legacy that we actually wanted to be a part of, and it was very exciting. So we did think about it. And then in retrospect when I’ve talked to friends of mine that were in school when I was in school, we just sort of look back and say, “Yeah, we were right.”