West Charlotte changes marching band because of racial identity
Despite Black's optimism throughout this interview, he has mixed feelings about West Charlotte's future. While race relations are improving, school traditions like the marching band are suffering—perhaps in part because of these traditions' association with African American culture. This excerpt also demonstrates the gulf between how students and administrators think about West Charlotte.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Jeff Black, March 29, 1999. Interview K-0276. 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: Is there anything else about West Charlotte that you think is important that I haven’t asked you about? About your experience or the person it’s made you or anything like that?
JB: [Long pause.] I thing it’s concerns about West Charlotte in the future. Once this whole pupil assignment things goes through, I’m just concerned about what it’s becoming or what’s happening. I see certain facets of West Charlotte improving. I see race relations improving at West Charlotte again after all the stuff that happened with the faculty. But now I also see things that have been tradition like the marching band, that’s changed drastically over the past few years with Mr. Davenport leaving. I’m concerned about the direction that’s taking. The marching band has been the main thing. This has been my disappointment in the school over the past few years. I wasn’t even in it this year just because I wasn’t going to be a part of that. I don’t agree with what’s happening. It seemed like people were like, “We have to change this. This isn’t right.” No. I don’t think they understood a lot of the things. We used to do breakdowns and dances on the field all the time. The administration came down my eleventh grade year and was like look, “You are all not going to do that.” Like, “Why not? What’s the matter?” Like, “No. That’s not proper. That’s not West Charlotte.” What they didn’t realize was that is West Charlotte. They just haven’t been there to see that. There are some things that are just tradition at West Charlotte. We did a field show this year. It wasn’t even a high step routine. It was just like corps-style marching. That’s good that the band knew how to do that, but people didn’t want to see that. That’s not what West Charlotte’s known for. It’s like people are thinking we’re a ghetto school. People are thinking that’s all we do is dance. But some things are just tradition, and that’s what concerns me. The type of changes that are being made just strictly based on perception instead of what West Charlotte has always been about.
PG: Do you think that perception is the concern that West Charlotte is going to be perceived as being too black?
JB: It seems like that was the motivation in the changes that were made with the marching band. Gosh, I don’t know. The crowd seemed to enjoy it. Everybody else seemed to enjoy it. I don’t see why we have so much trouble within our own school.
PG: Was this mostly an administration concern?
JB: It was mostly administration I think.
PG: That’s very interesting, because everybody talks about the band when they’re talking about the school.
JB: It got so bad they threatened that we weren’t even going to be able to compete. Like, “Well, no. We’re just going to take you all off the field if you all do that.”
JB: Like, why? That’s what we’ve always been about. But, that’s what we’re not going to be about now. We’re taking West Charlotte to bigger and better things. I don’t think that what we’ve done has not been any bigger or any better than what we were doing before as far as the marching band.