Diversity at West Charlotte
Love reflects on the effects of integration on his own school experience in this interview. He thinks he "hit the motherload," learning about the diversity of the outside world. Love remembers that this diversity contributed to an overwhelmingly positive experience at West Charlotte High School.
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
PG: Did you, or do you ever wish at all that you had been able to go to West Charlotte when it was all black?
JL: Hum. I think—no, I never wished that. The fact that West Charlotte existed, and the fact that it was all black, and the fact that my parents and relatives were there when that happened, I feel like I benefited from that. But I also feel like I benefited from all of the positive things that happened when West Charlotte was integrated. So if I had felt like I missed something, then maybe I would wish that I was there when it was all black. But I don’t feel like I missed anything. I feel like I hit the mother load.
PG: Well, what did you gain from going when you did?
JL: I think I gained a more realistic sense of how the world works outside of my own community that I grew up in. I think I gained a sense and skills about how to deal with a variety of different people that are coming to a situation with a variety of different issues, agendas, needs, wants, desires, that whole thing. I learned the importance of remaining true to self, and remaining true to my ideals and ways of doing things and things that I knew or felt were right, of questioning but not totally dismantling it every minute my moral compass, if you will. And being brave and challenging the things that need to be challenged or need to be thought about. All of that kind of stuff. The lessons were pretty huge. Maybe those same lessons would have been learned at any high school, but I didn’t go to just any high school. I went to West Charlotte, and it was really a positive experience. I have so many friends from other places in the country and other places in the city even, and all over the world, who had horrible, and horrific high school experiences. But that wasn’t the case for me. One could play the magic “if” game all day long, but in terms of my reality when I was there I knew that it was special. I knew that it was great. It also helped to set me up for other incidences in my life. There have been times in my life when I’ve been involved in something, and I’ve actually taken the time to say, “Man, this is great. This is really cool. It could be so different right now. And I’m so appreciative that it is what it is right now.” And I think positive experiences allow you to do that. When you have this cachet of negative experience upon negative, experience upon negative experience, upon negative experience upon negative experience, you don't get any breathing room. And you feel like you’re forever, if you’re trying to get over it, and trying to be productive, and trying to endure, and trying to rise above, you just don’t get a chance to relax into something being good and then appreciating the fact that you’re there. And West Charlotte facilitated that for me. And during those times when things aren’t good, and things don’t feel good, and life isn’t great and fabulous and wonderful, it’s in my cellular structure that really positive experience with no excuses. Because even within that positive experience everything wasn’t great all the time. But over all, the over all patina of the experience, if you will, I have to say without any hesitation was really fabulous and really, really wonderful. And I’ve realized that there are a lot of things that I can’t say that about.