Mr. Reginald Hawkins was born in Beaufort, North Carolina. He attended Johnson C. Smith University and Howard University and completed the coursework for a degree in dentistry. He returned to Johnson C. Smith University and was ordained a Presbyterian Evangelist. He also served in the army—stationed at Wilmack General Hospital in Fort Bragg , North Carolina . Although he was not a resident of Brooklyn , he remembers his first office there. He had a thriving dentist and oral surgery practice at Second and Brevard Streets in the AME Zion Publication Building . He thought of Brooklyn as a “thriving enclave ghetto of blacks,” and noted that “everything you wanted to do was in Brooklyn .” In the interview, Hawkins spoke of his involvement in the landmark case of Swan versus Charlotte-Mecklenburg concerning the busing of black students to other schools. He also focused on the issue of urban development in Brooklyn , something he referred to as “black removal.”
Tape Log: Oral History Interview with Reginald Hawkins
GC: Greg Childs (Interviewer)
RH: Dr. Reginald Hawkins (Interviewee)
Start of Tape 1, Side A
GC: Alright, Dr. Hawkins, I want to start by asking you…
RH: Talk a little louder now, cause I…
GC: What do you remember most about the Brooklyn neighborhood? What are some of your
RH: My first office was in Brooklyn, Second and Brevard Street, in the AME Zion publication building
there in nineteen hundred and forty-eight. It was a thriving, enclave ghetto of blacks. We had
black businesses, black professionals, black schools. Everything to afford a community was in the
Brooklyn area. Very successful black people were there, but it was segregated. Yeah, we had
come out of a segregated system and people had done very well, done very well economically,
politically, and otherwise. Education, who lived in Brooklyn. It was an area that was basically
land owned. Most of the land was not owned by black folk, it was owned by, by whites; the
Dwelly family and several other leading real estate families owned most of that property. But
there were church, a lot of, most of your black churches were in the Brooklyn area. Prominent
black churches were in the Brooklyn area. So it, it was a black, black, similar black business and
everything similar to Atlanta. [Pause] So, I, most of anything you wanted to do was in Brooklyn.
As I said my first office was in Brooklyn.
GC: Well, what churches come to mind when you think about…
RH: Well, St. Paul Baptist Church was the largest black, and Brooklyn Presbyterian Church, Daddy
Grace, the House of Prayer, Friendship Baptist Church, the Congregational Church, Stonewall
AME Zion Church, Grace AME Zion Church, Mt. Sainai, all of the leading churches which are
now on the West Side of Charlotte were in Brooklyn. And they came in with urban
redevelopment and ran us all out of, out of Brooklyn. They took the land under urban
redevelopment and, and this where you find now all of the hotels and, and governmental buildings
and all that land was owned by blacks [Pause] and they took it by urban, we call it black removal.
Some people call it urban redevelopment but it was black removal on the part of the city
government to get blacks out of that area.
GC: Who was mayor at the time?
RH: Well, you had several; Brookshire, and Smith, and John Belk, and [Pause] basically the mayors of
Charlotte at that time during urban redevelopment. Urban redevelopment started around 1965,
and I fought it, you know. They built, I made them build Earl Village there in the middle of
Charlotte, because they had no plans for housing for the people they were disrupting. No plan.
All they’d do is come in and take the land, providing no housing and everything. But I held up the
money on urban renewal until they made some promotion toward building adequate ( ) and
sanitary housing for blacks, which they went back on once they started getting urban
redevelopment and, and a lot of blacks started selling out. Then the city of Charlotte reneged on
its, on its promise to build housing for blacks that were uprooted. Most of these buildings, these
bank buildings and all that you see downtown were built with money called UDAN, money that
was promised to build black housing, and they took it and built these buildings under the promise,
and they were going to give blacks jobs, that they, money that was used for urban redevelopment
would give blacks employment, which never came. But the banks and other industries got that
money and that’s how you see all those big buildings downtown. It was built under false pretense
known as UDAN money.
GC: UDAN money?
RH: UDAN; United States development. UDAN.
GC: Now, how long was the urban renewal project?
RH: I would say probably five, five years or more. Kelly Alexander and I fought it. We went around
to all of the ministers and all telling them not to move, but the, the money was flowing. The city
was getting the money from the federal government and they were just buying out everything.
And then they were buying up a lot of blacks who they were paying off to go out and try to get
these people to sell their property or move.
GC: And, could you talk a little bit about the city’s reactions to the way you were fighting urban
RH: Yeah, they shot at me, bombed me, in ’65 they bombed my house, and put me in jail because of, I
registered a lot of those people in Brooklyn that you see, that you talked about. We put 16,000
people on the books in six weeks. And they came after me saying I was responsible for black
folks name being put on the books who could not read and write according to them. ( ) But they
came out with and said I took over the voter registration and they put me in jail and we went, we
fought that case all the way to the Supreme Court and back and we won. But most of the guts in
the voting rights act came out of what they did to me. And basically most of our registration was
done, people in Brooklyn who were being uprooted by urban redevelopment. And, and what they
did, after they would move them out they would send postal cards and if they postal card came
back they would take their names off the books. That was done by the city of Charlotte, the
political forces in this city, to, so they could go through with urban redevelopment, so they could
continue desegregating the schools, and continue, segregation as they saw it. They felt that we
were a threat, Kelly Alexander and I were a threat to them, you know.
GC: Now, about the desegregation, there is a picture of you walking Dorothy Counts Scoggins.
RH: That was 1957. That was the entrance into the school at Harding High School. Yes, I got her
application and I carried her, bought her out of the school. It’s all, they tore my clothes off me and
spat upon me and everything else, and did the same thing with Dorothy. But out of that we were,
we got many, my, we, I filed the case against the state of North Carolina, Peersal Plan, where they
had a People Assignment Plan, where they would let blacks in who they wanted to let in. But we
were fighting for geographical desegregation ‘cause white and blacks lived right in the same door,
house to house, close together. But they were busing the black kids out to, to black schools and
the white kids out to white schools, and we fought that, fought the whole segregation system. The
Swan case, that you’ve heard about is my case. I’ve got applications from Swan, Dorothy Counts,
Gus Roberts, and all of them, where they had to file under the People Assignment Plan. And the
People Assignment Plan versus, Hawkins versus the Peersal Plan in 1956 was marked I filed a
case against the city of Charlotte and the county for segregating, against segregated schools.
GC: And it was, it was just your, you, it was just you who filed?
RH: Well, we had filed a case before. We filed the first case in 1963, and the judge threw it out and
said that it was not timely filed, which was a lie. But that’s why we had to fight against the judges
in, in the state of North Carolina, who were bigots. We had to fight the whole unjust system. So I
bought Julius Chambers here to reopen that case in 1964, which we did and I, the Swan case is a
result of our activity in filing and reopening the case. The first case was named after Orea, Mrs.
Orea’s kids. And I was, I was a plaintiff in both of those cases.
GC: How long did the, was it, did it go to trial?
RH: Yeah, we won the Swan case, we won. Busing is the case that came out of that. The busing case,
which became a landmark decision all over the United States, where they had to bus blacks and
whites together to create desegregated schools. So, that case was, was a landmark case. Swan
versus Charlotte-Mecklenburg. I named it after Swan, who’s a fellow fraternity brother of mine
and a Presbyterian minister. He was not here when the case was filed, and I was here when it was
won. But they don’t mention the other seventeen families that are also on that case. If you go out
and look, University library you can get the names of those other members of that suit, in case.
Did you visit the rare, the rare book section out there University of North Carolina?
GC: uhh, ( )
RH: Well I told you most of my works, a lot of my works are there, a lot of things, a lot of it about
Brooklyn and everything else you will find, that would help you in your research.
GC: What were some of the business-, how did urban, you know, development affect, (what
businesses, what businesses).
RH: (It kno-, it, it, it tore up, tore up the black) community. Had every black family who lived in
Brooklyn trying to build a house, trying to buy a car, and trying to build a church. It played
havoc. It destroyed a, an economic conclave in the black community. And they didn’t give them
enough money to get restarted and they just played havoc to the black community, that, we’re still
suffering from urban redevelopment, black folk are still suffering because of the economic thrust
that it put upon them. And they took their property, destroyed their businesses, and destroyed
their churches, did all of that.
We call it black removal, we don’t call it urban redevelopment.
GC: How active was the NAACP?
RH: Very active, and Kelly Alexander was president of the NACP, and I was presi-, I was state
treasurer of NACP and president of MOPA, the Mecklenburg Organization on Political Affairs.
So we worked hand in hand, I’m a life member of the NACP.
GC: [Pause] About how big was the old Brooklyn neighborhood, and about how far did it stretch?
RH: Well it was, was very large. It housed most of the black comm-, population at that time, about
33% of the city of Charlotte was black. And I would say that ma-, the, the majority of blacks lived
GC: Any other black neighborhoods?
RH: It was a black, complete black neighbor-, enclave, self-sustaining.
Churches, theatres, and, and businesses, and professionals, everything. All the black
professionals, physician and dentists, and, and everything else was located in Brooklyn.
GC: The Blue Heaven section of Brooklyn-
RH: Say what?
GC: The section (that was called Blue Heaven)
RH: Blue Heaven? That was the place that the Dwelly family owned with the, it was very poverty
stricken, most of the, down on the river, and very poverty stricken. That was one of the first areas
that they hit because the blacks did not own the land. Whites owned that land, and was shotgun
houses and all of that, you know what I’m talking a-, all of that were in Blue Heaven.
GC: So, thatRH:
It was a part of Brooklyn.
GC: That, that part of Brooklyn was torn down first?
RH: It was first hit, (first?) yeah, because the land in there was owned by whites, and they were willing
to sell and get rid of, let the blacks go to hell. But some blacks fought it. As I said, we fought,
Kelly and I fought, and I filed suit against urban redevelopment and held up the money until they
built Earl Village to provide housing for black folk.
GC: What, what, you say you were an ordained minister.
RH: I’m a Presbyterian minister and a dentist.
GC: And did you actually speak at any churches (during all this time)
RH: I preached at them (laughter). Sure, I’ve pastured churches and preached and worked with the
World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches and the United Presbyterian
Church all over the world. So, my mission, I was ordained as an evangelist, and my mission was
social education and action, under the Presbyterian church. But I pastured chur-, built churches
and everything in this community.
GC: And, segre- , desegregation and the whole desegre-, how did the incident with Dorothy Counts
Scoggins, how, wh-, how did that have an effect on ( )
RH: Well, her father and I were very good friends. Her father’s a Presbyterian minister, taught at
Johnson C. Smith. Dorothy was one, lived in the mouth of Harding High School and I went
around and got application of all blacks that lived in, in the mouth of white schools. So how I got
up with her, I got her application, filed it and took her to school, and stuck with her the whole
time. She, Gus Roberts, and, and all the other kids that were, that went to school that day. We, I
went, I took all of them, most of them to school, or bought most of them out of the school. So
with Dorothy Counts it was my getting her application, completing the application, and sticking
with her all the time she was into that situation, like we did the other kids who-, she wasn’t the
only one you know there were others too who desegregated that day.
GC: And, and what happened after the first day, what happened?
RH: Well, they, they, they treated her rudely. She had to, she withdrew because they treated her so
badly. Gus Roberts and others stayed there, but she was the first and they, the whole city of
Charlotte turned against her. She got no protection, threats and, to her family and to her wellbeing.
As a young girl she couldn’t take that harassment but three days. And she withdrew from
the school, because of the intimidation and threats. No protection, no protection for her.
RH: Talk louder.
GC: Where did she go to school after this (incident)?
RH: Well she went to boarding school at, in Asheville and then she finished Johnson C. Smith
GC: Now, Johnson C. Sm-, Johnson C. Smith was a thriving university at this time?
RH: Oh yeah, yeah. I finished Johnson C. Smith. My wife finished Johnson C. Smith. It’s, Johnson
C. Smith was one of the leading black-, Johnson C. Smith, Morehouse, and Lincoln University
were the three leading black universities in this country, back then during that time. All of them
were church schools, but they were, they were leading schools, much more than state schools, they
were-, state schools did not come into its being until after the Supreme Court Decision, you know,
which desegregated the schools. Before that time, black state schools caught hell, [Pause] ‘cause
they were not allocated the monies by the state legislatures.
GC: So, was there a lot of tension, or I shouldn’t say tension, a lot of-, what were the feelings on the
campus of Johnson C. Smith while black removal, as you sayRH:
Had student, the student sit-ins, and the black movement, and, and, the, most of the kids who
supported me in my civil rights acts were Johnson C. Smith students, because I had, being a
Presbyterian minister Johnson C. Smith was a Presbyterian school, and I had, well I taught some
up there too, and worked with them in civil rights and everything. They supported me. So a lot of
the students were in my, in my organization at Johnson C. Smith. And the sit-ins that the students
did, all of that. Students were very active. A lot of them now, who, McKinley Washington
senator of South Carolina was one of my students, who as I said, a lot of black students from
South Carolina were part of those that demonstrated with me. In Spartanburg, all the major cities,
a lot of students from South Carolina participated in desegregating Charlotte.
GC: Now, [Long Pause] what am I trying to ask? [Pause] Was Johnson C. Smith a integral part of the
RH: Oh yeah. Not Brooklyn, it wasn’t in Brooklyn Johnson C. Smith was on Beaties Ford Road in
West Charlotte. Brooklyn was in the middle of Charlotte, where you find Adams Mark and, and
Cameron Brown, the governmental buildings and all of that. That, they, the convention center and
all of that was Brooklyn. They took that land from us. Johnson C. Smith was on Beatties Ford
Road, which is in West Charlotte. Brooklyn is, was in the middle of Charlotte. All these new
buildings, when you see all these skyscrapers and all of that, that was Brooklyn.
GC: All of that area?
RH: All of that area was Brooklyn.
GC: A lot of, lot of, lot of land.
RH: A lot of land ( ). You must remember though, during slavery times, when Sherman came through
the south blacks were on the outside of the cities. White folk were inside the cities. Then when
we started desegregating, black folks moved into the cities, white folk moved out the cities.
That’s the ( ) in the United States today wherever blacks move, white folks move out of, it’s the
situation. And that was happening, in, in, in Charlotte, black folks settled in basically Brooklyn,
now, in the middle of Charlotte. All that area was black, white folks lived in the city, but then
they started selling the property, moving out to the suburban area, taking land from blacks in the
suburban area. Brooklyn is just a reversal of what happened as of slavery. White folks took the
suburban land, they took the city land. So, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s just, just a reversal their planning the
time. The use of governmental power, that’s-, slavery was governmental, you know.
GC: So, was there any-, do you think that there were any people who were in the black community
who welcomed the (slight laughter) urban renewal?
RH: Yeah, you had, you had Uncle Toms, Uncle Toms that they bought and paid to work in the urban
redevelopment center, work under the urban redevelopment office. You had black folks would
ask-, undermining blacks and giving them little bit money, under appraising their land, and all of
that. All of that was done by blacks. We had to fight black folks too you know, in desegregation.
You still got a lot of them now, you got a lot of there in New York with the Republican party, who
are sell-outs. So don’t, don’t think that’s anything new. We’ve always had them. [Pause] In
Haiti, they’d kill them, you know, and you can-, if these blacks in Charlotte who were selling us
out were Haitian or, or Arab, or Jewish they’d be dead.
RH: That’s right.
GC: Talk, talk a little bit about the-, what kind of media outlets did the black community have?
RH: Well, it had none. That was one of our weak-, had the Charlotte Post which was controlled by Dr.
Tross, who was one of the biggest Uncle Toms that had. And the Charlotte papers, the Charlotte
Observer and the Charlotte News were basically anti-black. The whole power structure, we had, I
had to take money out of my pocket to fight this struggle. People don’t realize what Kelly
Alexander and I did, to fight. If it hadn’t been for the United Presbyterian Church and legal
defense we would’ve been in trouble, because the monies that we used against us, we, it wasn’t
government. Kept putting us in jail, that was government force; urban redevelopment,
government forces; de-, segregation of schools by government. See, you don’t realize, you fought
Bop Bep-, Poppa Doc down there in Haiti where it was worse, I fought him too. I was, when he
was the dictator down in Haiti, I was working with Haiti. But the fact is that you’ve got
government using your money to fight you. And it was just on the basis of black churches and
black individuals that we were able to survive. Had it not been for the black church, we wouldn’t,
wouldn’t have been able to make it.
GC: Now you sayRH:
GC: Nathanial TrossRH:
Nathanial, you read about him, you heardGC:
He, he worked the Charlotte Post you said?
RH: Yeah he owned the Charlotte Post. He and, and Houston [Pause] owned the . And they, when he
had a radio program where he was telling blacks to be good to their, to their slave masters and all
of that. Preaching the Nester story from the bible: slave be good to your masters. But you had
that, I had to overcome. I had blacks write me letters, you go out to University of South Carolina
and read the work. Black folks wrote me letters saying I was destroying the good race-relations
‘cause I threatened to desegregate the schools. I had black folks to call me, most of them are dead,
and threaten me, because of what we were doing to, to eliminate the injustice in this, in this
GC: [Pause] Serious threats?
RH: Serious threats, that’s right.
GC: And, about, how, did this, was this, did this start, did these, did these, did this opposition, you
know, start immediately when you st-, began ( )
RH: It started, it started with me amongst professional blacks, who had a niche, who had, were house
niggas we called them.
GC: So, but as far as within the NAACP, everything wasRH:
The NACP was ostracized, a lot of blacks, they criticized me and the, the NACP, and then whites
tried to buy me out, saying you know you don’t have to be down there working with these lowincome
you know what, because in fact, you’re better, you got these degrees, and all of that. And
it was the House of Prayer people and all them there supported us. The so-called ( ) were the ones
that supported us. We did not get all that support from those who were able, who had a niche with
the white power structure. There were a lot of blacks who were at the mix with the white
structure, there it is today. Worse today than it was back there then. Because we more educated,
and, more, and it’s more sophisticated.
GC: Now, talking, you were talking about student, a lot of students, supported, supporting you.
RH: That’s right, that was the support system the students. [Pause] University of North Carolina and,
and Charlotte. And even the, even in the high school, elementary school. We had babies out there
GC: So, say more youth support, or as much youth support as working adult support as well?
RH: Well we had adult support. Most of the adults were women, because most of the men were
working. Back there then, women did not work like they do today, so they had the free time. That
was true in the church and in society. So most of the, the leadership were black preachers and
GC: OK, Now how did, what, how did womenRH:
They were strong
GC: How did they help?
RH: Black women are strong. Black women are stronger than black men, you know that?
GC: Could you talk a little about what kind of role, (how they helped).
RH: They played a major role.
GC: How they helped?
RH: They, they played major roles, in the churches and in society. The Rosa Park types, you know
Rosa Park? Had the, Fannie Lou Haymer type, you know. We had those here in Charlotte, those
are people who supported me. Who heard me gladly. They don’t write about them, the whites
don’t write about them. But we had, we had that kind of support here in Charlotte, and in South
Carolina [Pause] with black kids who fought. The struggle was done by black preachers, black
women, and black kids. A lot of black men didn’t, didn’t, those that were not in the ministry did
not participate. [Pause] It was, a lot of them tried to, but as I said, most of them were employed or
the, the man had they foot on their necks, and some here in prison, and so forth. So basically civil
rights struggle was black preachers, black women, and black children.
GC: And, but you think that many, a lot of the men did try you say?
RH: Well, a lot of the men worked in, I got a lot of information from blacks who worked in whites-,
black men who worked as waiters and worked in servitude jobs, they would hear them. And white
folks considered them invisible, so when they were planning, they would hear what they were
saying and they would get, tell me what the whites were planning to do. So we had our spies too,
you know. It was, they had their spies. But basically the whole struggle for black folks had been
black preachers, black women, and black children.
GC: Can you talk a little bit aboutRH:
See the black man has always been endangered species, even today. You are an endangered
species man. They might catch you, put you in jail, and charge you with anything. It still exists.
It was that, it was worse, more vicious then, but it still exists. 52% of all the young men in prison
in North Carolina are black men. So it isn’t anything, anything different.
GC: But, how did you feel about Mayor Brookshire.
RH: Brookshire was the biggest hypocrite that it was. He played, well he was Chamber of Commerce
type. He knew that we were going to not, not going to stop. He knew that I was not going to stop.
So they tried to join us and take over what we were doing. And tried to say that they were not
forced to do these things, but they were. Brookshire called me and threatened to fight me, and I’m
a, I’m a professional boxer and, and, and, and wrestler. I’m the only CIAA champ Johnson C.
Smith has had. So I said “well come on down at the square I’d like to kick your ass at the square”.
He almost swallowed the telephone.
GC: (laughter) So, but, he, he didn’t come, though?
RH: No, he didn’t come. He, he thought he was talking a weakling, you see. I told him, “I’d be glad to
kick your ass.” Down on the square.
GC: Was that, any other mayors that you had anyRH:
Oh, I had it with all of them.
GC: Run-Ins with?
RH: Smith, Belk, all of them. Not with, not, not threatening with, with physical harm you know. But
they did, they did this under the cover, their probably some of those that bombed me, you know.
GC: [Pause] How, how did this affect your profession.
RH: Because of the black support, the black people in Charlotte supported me. I had white patients.
I’m good, I had the biggest practice in North Carolina and they tried to destroy it, but I had the
biggest practice in North Carolina, white or black, because the black people supported me. I could
not have done it without the support of black folks. Plus I was competent, well trained at Howard
University, and in the army. So I was competent, and they knew that. I was, they knew that I was
not any dumb nigger, you know. So I always studied and found out how to beat them and I was
successful. I’m the most successful Civil Rights leader in this country. Martin was killed on the
day he was supposed to been with me on my campaign, but none of them have the success stories
that I have. Go down to Levine Museum and on, in every area. You find out we were successful,
that was the reason. And that’s why they hate my guts, I said, because they could not get me to
sell-out. City of Charlotte tried to take credit for what we made them do. And no one got elected
in North Carolina unless they went by us. That’s the same thing with this political campaign now.
If black folks turn out like they used to turn out ain’t no way in the world Bush and Republicans
and all of them can make it, unless they steal another election like they did in Florida. There are a
lot of Haitians in Florida, you know. I worked with the Father Gibson down in Miami, I worked
with a lot of Haitians out of Miami.
GC: How about, you, you ran for Mayor twice?
RH: I ran for governor twice.
GC: Governor twice.
RH: We forced a run-off both times. We determined who the next governor of North Carolina would
be. And they hated that too.
GC: When, when was, when was this?
RH: ‘68 and ‘72.
GC: Wow, OK.
RH: The, the demonstrations that are going on in New York now the demons-, the kids demonstrated
for me in, in Chicago, the Grand Park demonstration. And we fought, I got it in there, I fought to
get more, more representation for blacks and women in the democratic party. That’s why the
Democratic party is as desegregated as it is today, because of our activity. Attorney Ferguson and
Svine were my lawyers, who fought for, in, in Chicago for more representation for blacks in the
Democratic party. I was a delegate.
GC: Now you say you had some white patients.
RH: I had white and black patients, and green and purple, every-, all kinds of patients. From all over, I
had people travel all over the Un-, North Carolina and South Carolina to come to me for practice.
And I’m, I worked three and half days a week, and I-, they allowed me to do all the desegregation,
because the people would wait. I had people with swollen jaws and everything that I’d give them
hell because they wouldn’t go to anyone else, because they wanted me. Same thing when I was in
the army. No one is, I was the only dentist doing oral surgery, ‘cause white folks would not take
black patients in Charlotte, during that time.
GC: So you were the only black-(black oral surgeon)
RH: I was the only black oral surgeon. Yeah
GC: And, so you basically had no colleagues within your field at this time?
RH: No, no, no most of the others did not do oral surgery. They, they were regular dentistry, you
GC: What, what was it that kind of made you decide to do oralRH:
GC: Oral surgery, how did youRH:
Oh, I did the world, I did, had to do everything back then when I was practicing. But, oral surgery
was my sub-specialty. Because the fact I was trained at Howard to be an oral surgeon.
GC: This, did you see this as something that would-, did you choose this path because you saw
something that would be beneficial?
RH: Oh I did everything. I did orthodontistry, oral surgery, all phase of dentistry, but oral surgery is,
what is a step above it. It involves surgery of the head and, head and jaws, you know. And, so all
fractured jaws, and cancer surgery, and all, and I did that in Charlotte and in the army at Wilmack
General Hospital at Fort Brag. See I desegregated Fort Brag too, you know.
GC: Well, how, what kind of, how were, you know hospitals for the black community
RH: Well only had one, Good Samaritan. I desegregated the hospitals; Charlotte Memorial,
Presbyterian Mercy, I desegregated and bought the federal government in on them, demonstrated
students, and I demonstrated against the hospitals, all of that. We opened them up, and blacks
didn’t have any hospitals. They were, had church, with the Episcopal Church supported, you
know, Good Samaritan. The city did nothing for black folks. But they did for whites.
GC: And, urban-, what-, during urban renewal did Good Samaritan.
RH: The Panthers, the stadium, Panthers stadium is where Good Samaritan used to be. That was there,
that was not a part of Brooklyn.
GC: OK, Good Samaritan was not a part of Brooklyn?
RH: No, it was not a part of Brooklyn.
GC: But residents from BrooklynRH:
GC: People from Brooklyn went to that hospital?
RH: Oh yeah, it was the only place they had to go, the only place black folks had to go
was at Good Samaritan.
GC: So, was, where the Panthers Stadium used to be (was that an all black neighborhood)?
RH: Panthers stadium is, is where, where Good Samaritan was.
GC: So that also used to be a black neighborhood?
RH: That was a black neighborhood, right. On Hill Street.
GC: OK, so was Brooklyn connected with other black neighborhoods in Charlotte?
RH: Well, you ran into one. I said Brooklyn was in the city of Charlotte, all that land between them
hospitals and all that was Brooklyn. And Brooklyn, and then you came into middl-, Hill Street,
Good Samaritan, and then you came into West Charlotte where blacks were concen-, blacks were
concentrated in the, in the inner city. Still there.
GC: You, you grew up in Charlotte.
RH: No, no, no I grew up in Beaufort, North Carolina. On the coast of North Carolina. I went to
Johnson C. Smith, and finished Smith and then finished Howard. Then came back and finished
GC: OK, so were you actually living in Brooklyn ( )
RH: No, no, I lived on Beatties Ford Road right in front of Johnson C. Smith.
GC: OK, alright.
RH: That was the exclusive black neighborhood at that time.
GC: OK, and Alexander’s lived in-,
RH: They lived in Brooklyn.
GC: Brook-, Oh, they lived in Brooklyn, OK. Now, what, were there-, that’s a prominent family, am I
correct? The Alexander family?
RH: The Alexander’s was funeral directors. You had a lot of prominent families in Charlotte. I said
there, Greer undertakers, Alexander undertakers, and Davidson’s were under-, my wife’s family
were undertakers and Baptist preachers. You had a lot of prominent blacks, and well educated.
Johnson C. Smith was here a lot of these people here, Presbyterian church requires an educated
ministry and education and most of the blacks in this community then were Presbyterians. And
most of them were well educated. School teachers, and doctors and all, most of the Presbyterians.
Johnson C. Smith, Johnson C. Smith was the center of the, of black culture in this area. Educated
most of the black people in this area.
GC: When was Carver College ( )?
RH: Carver College was started right after the, well before I was, in the early ‘50s. Started out of
Second Ward. And, mainly kids, the kids were coming back from World War II. They had GI
Bill of Rights and of them going to night school, because they were working. So they organized
Carver College after, after the hours. Carver Coll-, and Charlotte College, which UNCC grew out
of. Was started mainly to take care of veterans, trades and educational background for those who
had GI Bill of Rights and who at that time could not go to four year colleges. So Carver College
was a two year college, junior college. So was Central, I mean Charlotte College.
GC: What, how long, was Carver College destroyed during urban redevelopment
RH: (urban development)?
GC: Urban Redevelopment that destroyed Carver College?
RH: It destroyed Second Ward, Yeah.
RH: They had to move out on to I-85. Yeah, it was a part of Second Ward. Second Ward was a black
school, black high school, first black high school in North Carolina. That was destroyed by urban
redevelopment. Were you find the Ac-, the Acr-, the center and Adams Mark, and all that, all that
was Second Ward.
GC: Now, during this time there were also black social groups.
RH: Say what?
GC: There were also, like, black social organizations as well.
RH: Black sculpture?
GC: Social, like, I’ve read some about socialisticRH:
We had all the black-, we were completely, we were a complete community. You had fraternities,
lodges, Masonic lodges, fraternity, church groups, and-. We were a complete compact society,
GC: Self-sustaining, andRH:
That’s right, we had it under segregation. We had togetherness then, which we don’t have now.
That’s what we left, blacks gave up everything thinking whites, what had, what whites had was
better. So like I said I fought for black distinction not black extinction. A lot of blacks thought
integration was it. I never was an integrationist, I was a desegregationist. I fought the busing,
where they were busing the black kids into white neighborhoods. I said “we won the battle, we
should bring the whites into the black neighborhoods. And then they told me blacks never would
attend, I mean whites never would attend black schools. And that’s why they went on with this
conformed busing system, that’s why we in the problem we are now in the schools, where they resegregated.
Because of that mistake. I just keep praying ‘cause God told me what to do. They
didn’t listen to me. They went along with Maggie Ray and all of them, and, and put the burden of
desegregation on the back of blacks. And the member the school board never came through with
what they were supposed to done.
GC: Can you talk a little bit about the difference between integration and desegregation?
RH: Yeah, the, the difference is out-, e-, equality. [Pause] I think you-, I say give me an opportunity.
That’s what desegregation is.
GC: OK, alright.
RH: But they were desegregati-, denying blacks opportunities, in the schools, jobs, and everywhere
RH: Segregation was by law. Desegregation means removing the law. Integration means that goes
further, which white folks will never accept. White folks will never accept blacks as equal. I
don’t care how poor you is, or ( ) the American white man will never accept a black as equal, and
get that in your head. Long as your black, the white man say, think he superior to you. I don’t
care, I got six degrees and you got a white out here in a ditch thinks he’s equal or better than I am.
It’s in them. [Pause] The Arab’s the only ones who know that. In South America we don’t know
that, United States we don’t know that. And yet, these United States blacks all come out of the
same deseg-, segregated system, you know. These ( ) Jamaica, Barbados, Haitian, Toussaint
L’Ouverture, you know, is the one who fought and won, beat all-, beat Napoleon and all that. But,
none of, did us, did we ever have coming out of the slave system come together as we should
have. Jamaica was the only one.
END OF INTERVIEW (40:43.071)