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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Latrelle McAllister, June 25, 1998. Interview K-0173. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

West Charlotte's relative wealth keeps it calm during desegregation

In this excerpt, McAllister recalls the turbulent mid-1970s, when integration was in full swing. But she does not remember too much trouble—black and white students usually got along, and disagreements that erupted had nothing to do with race, she thinks. She thinks that the West Charlotte community, and, it seems, its relatively comfortable economic status, had something to do with the school's relatively placid trip through a difficult era.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Latrelle McAllister, June 25, 1998. Interview K-0173. 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’m interested again in the, sort of, period that you went to school, ’73 through ’76 in a couple of things. It seems like that was also a period where the student assignments were still changing. Did the student body at West Charlotte change related to that? LM: It did. It did. As I mentioned earlier, part of the folks in my neighborhood—in fact, some of my close friends—went to West Mecklenberg for one year and then came to West Charlotte for the later two years. So the student assignments were continuing to change. There was some unrest. Not necessarily on our campus, but I think at other campuses. One of the things that we were a part of was the Boston exchange. We had an exchange program where, I think—I can’t remember exactly—perhaps there were three to five students from Boston that came to school at West Charlotte for a period, I think, of a week. And, then some students from our campus went to school there. Because Boston had—I guess—been a benchmark for success in terms of integrating school systems. So we were able to get the opportunity to share with them their successes and, hopefully, learn from those mistakes that they made, as well. So, that was one important program. I don’t remember--. In fact, one of the things, I think, that we had, or at least in my experience—was a closeness between the black students and the white students. We just had a great time catching up with one another at both our ten-year and our twenty-year reunions. Maybe it was because we were involved with one another in extra -curricular activities. Maybe it was because really the--. I guess there really wasn’t a tolerance for anything other than working together at West Charlotte. Maybe that was it, I don’t know. But we seemed to all get along quite well. So, that--. I don’t remember any--. I really don’t remember racially motivated outbreaks. There were conflicts between black and white students. Most often those were not rooted in racism. They were rooted--. Sometimes they were drug deals. Sometimes there were other skirmishes about issues outside of school. But I don’t remember any truly racially motivated incidents. Now, I’ll have to remind you that my memory isn’t very good, but that just wasn’t a sense of what I had, a sense of discomfort about where I was or what I was doing. It was at that time predominantly black anyway. Perhaps white students felt that. But, certainly we didn’t. PG: Did you have a sense that having black students and white students at the same school getting along well was something special? Did you feel that or was it just something that seemed normal to you? LM: I think, perhaps, from--. Because keep in mind, a lot of time a teenager’s view is a very unrealistic view anyway, I guess I really didn’t have the expectation that it would have been anything other than what it was. That it would have been conflictual. Because I certainly felt that those students who were bussed there had the same quality of education that they would have had in their other schools. I certainly felt that they had the same caring and conscientious faculty and staff, just support team there. It’s a beautiful campus. The neighborhood was considered a middle class neighborhood. A lot of the white students came from Myers Park, so certainly, there wasn’t a comparison there. It was a well-kept, established middle class neighborhood where people cared about what went on around them and in their community. So, I saw no reason for the students to be threatened or feel as thought they’d been cheated. But, perhaps, maybe they did not get to experience what I got to experience--. Perhaps they didn’t get to experience going to Myers Park and finishing at Myers Park where their brothers and sisters and parents finished they may have felt short changed in that respect. But, we certainly had no expectation of it being anything other than it was. I really don’t sense there would have been much tolerance for that.