Title: Oral History Interview with L. M. Wright Jr., April 1, 1974. Interview A-0333-1.
Interviewer: Moye, Bill
Interviewee: Wright, L. M.
Abstract: L. M. Wright worked as a writer and editor for the Charlotte Observer during the late 1950s and early 1960s. His positions afforded him a unique view of the unfolding political landscape in Charlotte, North Carolina, during those tumultuous years. In this interview, Wright speaks at length about the various factors that shaped local politics in Charlotte into the mid-1970s. He begins by addressing the changing role of the Chamber of Commerce in local politics, arguing that over the course of the 1960s its centrality to political developments began to dwindle. Despite the Chamber's dwindling power, however, Wright asserts throughout that business interests, specifically those of the downtown area, continued to play a central role to local politics. Wright describes the role of historically prominent business figures, including the Belk and Ivey families, and their relationship to local politics. Additionally, he discusses the role of African American business and political leaders, including Fred Alexander, Kelly Alexander, Reginald Hawkins, and Phil Berry. At several points in the interview, Wright argues that local business leaders were quick to support desegregation in the 1960s because they understood that it was in their economic interest to do so. Wright also discusses how desegregation affected local politics in terms of the political affiliations of various precincts and in the process of urban renewal. Throughout the interview, Wright's observations reveal the ways in which local politics intersected with race and economics during an era of political consolidation in Charlotte. Researchers interested in the history and politics of Charlotte will also appreciate Wright's efforts to identify various participants in local politics and the economic and political networks they built.