Integration damages black traditions at West Charlotte
In this excerpt, Love remembers that the band at West Charlotte High School "just got down," animated by the vibrancy of African American culture. When white students came to West Charlotte, they diluted this vibrancy and the character of the band changed. The cultural life of West Charlotte changed in other ways, too, as integration brought in students from different backgrounds.
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
JL: The most vivid memories of the band when it was really something was the way that the band would show out at the square on the Thanksgiving Day parade. Because the band just got down. The drum major got down. The majorettes got down. The band got down. I mean it was just funky and jamming and it. And very exciting. For me—this might be a far fetching kind of analogy or juxtaposition, but when you think about the energy at carnival and you associate a certain kind of energy with Latins and the Brazilians at carnival and that whole thing? Well, with the band that same kind of energy and the association with a kind of vibrancy of African Americans, it was the same thing. And I think when the band was in its heyday is when it expressed that kind of energy in a very undeterred way. If you want to talk about the purity of something, straight up, no chaser, no excuses. This is what it is, concentrated.
PG: So you think that with integration that that changed?
JL: Yes. With integration a lot of things like that changed. When you take one element and you combine it with another element you might come up with something that is fabulous and wonderful, but you don’t have the first element in its pure form or the second element in its pure form. And it’s just different.
PG: Were there some other places where you think that happened?
JL: Specifically? Specifically in just what is the manifestation of what is the culture of high school. Like I said before, from first about how the prom is done to how it’s decorated, to who’s the band playing, to whether or not it’s a band or a DJ, or a band and a DJ, to maybe even the food that’s served in the cafeteria. You know what I’m saying? To the school dances that happen after school, to the events that are planned for the school either by the students or by the teachers, to the way that the award ceremonies are done. All of that kind of stuff. It just changes, and participating in the world changes you with those kinds of things. So that’s kind of what it is. I’m not necessarily big on things staying the same and not changing. I love the fact that things change and that one thing affects another, vibrantly. But I’m also really big on people at least trying to have an understanding that it wasn’t always like this, and trying to have an understanding of the significance of the different elements and components of any organism, be it a school, be it someone’s personal history, be it the state of the American theater, be it film. Whatever.