Successful interracialism at West Charlotte
In this excerpt, Culp recalls the efforts of administrators and faculty at West Charlotte to make all students feel welcome. He soon segues into a discussion of West Charlotte's school pride, a ubiquitous topic in interviews about the school. West Charlotte's harmonious racial diversity is one of the elements—in addition to academic and athletic performance—that generates this deep sense of pride.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with William Culp, February 19, 1999. Interview K-0277. 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: Were there other measures that you recall the teachers and administration at West Charlotte making in order to make all the students feel that they belonged to the school?
WC: Well, the big thing that always struck me about West Charlotte in those days, and I really can talk primarily about the 70s and 80s because those are what I’m more familiar with, was the fact that there was a great attempt on the part of the faculty and the administration to treat students the same, not to show any kind of favoritism regardless of whether it would be favoritism toward black students or white students but, in effect, to try to create an environment in which all students felt the same and felt that they were treated the same. I think that was the important element in the magic that West Charlotte created, was that cooperation. I think the other thing was the pride that the school felt. Not only has West Charlotte produced a lot of Morehead scholars, for example my daughter having been a Morehead scholar and went to Chapel Hill, but also they produced a lot of all state football players, and they’ve won state championships in basketball a good bit. They did great in the Odyssey of the Mind. West Charlotte is just a school with lots of awards, and lots of plaques, and lots of pride. It’s had the pride not only since it’s been an integrated school since 1970, but it had it before that. It’s a school with a long history and organizations to help promote that positive feeling about the school. I think that white students who started going to West Charlotte in the 70s really began to plug into that feeling of pride that black parents and black students had had for many years about West Charlotte. I think the pride of the school and the good feelings about the school in the community and among both faculty and alumni and students and parents simply helps that school continue to do such an excellent job as it faces the new challenges that inevitably it will face. It’s a school that’s really proud of itself, and proud of its heritage, and proud of it’s history. I think there’s no one that I know of that can say with any more pride anything than “I’m a member of the West Charlotte family.”
PG: And you continue to be a member of that? You still go to games?
WC: Oh, yeah. I still go to games, and I’ve been a debate judge at West Charlotte in recent years, and I still feel tied to the school even though, obviously, I have no children there any more and will probably never have any children there, and probably won’t have any grandchildren there since my children are scattered from one end of the country to the other. It’s my high school. It’s the school I feel close to, and its the school I’ll always identify with even though I didn’t attend it.
PG: That’s very ( ) when it can even draw in somebody like that.
WC: But then I have that unique experience of having taught there, and having had children attend there, and having been involved as a school committee chairman and school committee member, and a PTSA leader there, and had four children that went there, two of my own and two foster children, so I’ve really had lots of experience at West Charlotte over a long period of time. I hope West Charlotte will continue. I know it will be different. I know it will change. Nothing stays the same, but I just hope that there will always be a West Charlotte Senior High School.