Title: Oral History Interview with Diane English, May 20 2006. Interview U-0184.
Interviewer: Thuesen, Sarah
Interviewee: English, Diane
Abstract: This is the second interview in a two-part series with community activist Diane English. Here, English describes her work with the Belmont Neighborhood Community Strategy Force (BNCSF), of which she was elected president in 2003. She discusses her efforts to redevelop the Belmont Community Development Corporation (CDC) to give residents more stake in their neighborhood. English expresses the difficulties of sustaining resident involvement; to help meet this challenge, she took classes to learn how to be a neighborhood leader. English says that the media drew public attention to Belmont, which assisted in the BNCSF's efforts to remove the structural barriers placed in the neighborhood by the police department to help prevent drug dealers from entering the neighborhood. She maintains that the barriers did more harm than good, as they detracted from the aesthetic appeal of the neighborhood rather than obstructing drug deals. Skeptical not only about such strategies, English also conveys her ambivalence about the police presence in Belmont. She also maintains that the city's bureaucracy limited the efforts of well-meaning residents to eliminate drug selling and other criminal behavior from the community, but she is hopeful for the future of Belmont. Though she worries that the revitalization of Belmont will increase property taxes, homeownership keeps her in the neighborhood. English ends the interview with a discussion of racial prejudice in Charlotte and the role of race in school curricula. She asserts that positive lessons from black history—instead of black animosity against whites—will bring about greater interracial cooperation.