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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with H. M. Michaux, November 20, 1974. Interview A-0135. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Durham's political stagnation due to lack of economic growth

The decline of progressive politics in Durham is a result of the city's lack of economic growth and quest to maintain the status quo. Michaux reasons that Durham represents a microcosm of North Carolina as a whole.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with H. M. Michaux, November 20, 1974. Interview A-0135. 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

JACK BASS:
One part of the theory is that because things were better in North Carolina that when change came there wasn't as much change in North Carolina. The need for change was not perceived as being as great, so that there was less change. And the rest of the South has, in effect, caught up and North Carolina is just another one of the southern states in terms of attitudes now.
H. M. MICHAUX:
I think you're right. North Carolina was a progressive state as far as the other southern states were concerned. I agree with you on that. I agree with the fact that the other states have caught up with North Carolina and in stances passed North Carolina. But I think it's because we have a tendency in North Carolina to want to remain sort of within the status quo. Maybe it was felt that we were too progressive before. And we want to cut back now. In other words, progression has not kept its pace in North Carolina. Because of the general attitudes of people. For instance, you take Durham. Durham has no reason for dropping, for instance, from the third largest city in the state of North Carolina to the eighth largest city with no apparent growth at all. You take Raleigh, High Point, Fayetteville, Wilmington, cities like this that have surpassed Durham simply because they have had progressive thinking. And I liken North Carolina unto the city of Durham. We just are not that progressive here. We made some inroads before. Durham was the leader, as far as black politics was concerned. But we have sort of remained operating under the same ideas and the same theories. In other words, Durham I liken unto a mill town. It just won't progress beyond it's boundaries at all. In the overall spectrum, why should people who work in the research trianble be spending all of their time and their money in building and living in Raleigh and Cary and Chapel Hill and not Durham. We haven't made Durham attractive enough. This is the thing. Why I don't know. Maybe it's because of the state politics and everybody wants to keep it on a conservative level. I think we're moving away from that. And I think this applies in North Carolina. It takes time for people's ideas and attitudes to change. Landlord tenant legislation that benefits not only the lower economic spectrum but the higher economic spectrum. The fellows down east tell us they don't need that down there. We may need it in the piedmont but they don't need it down there. I mean, you know, this type of attitude. We're all right like we are. Leave us alone. I think it's this type of attitude we're going to have to get out of.