Racial dimension of the consolidation debate
Lowe discusses the racial aspect of the consolidation debate. He agrees with the interviewer that consolidation's opponents might have capitalized on racism and wonders if proponents should have done the same thing, perhaps threatening voters with the specter of black majorities in cities.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Charles M. Lowe, March 20, 1975. Interview B-0069. 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
Let me ask you this, now. You've implied, stated it, in fact,
and other people have commented on this, that it seems that the
opposition got the better part of the emotional issue. Perhaps, to some
extent, the pro forces, the for forces, preached the economy, the
efficiency, the more representative, the more equitable government.
Fairly logical arguments. Only to get hit over the head by all this talk
about "ward-heelers" and "going back to the
ward system" which seemed to be, perhaps, code words for saying
"there are going to be more blacks and maybe more poor whites
in government and we don't want that". It seems that
the opposition, then, got up…As you were saying,
it's much easier to got people to go to vote against, or
people are more likely to go to vote against than to vote for. You think
that's a… Was there anything that the supporters
could have used as an emotional sort of thing?
I think we could have, looking back. I don't know. Maybe we
should have. Maybe we should have been direct and blunt, even though it
would have dismayed some of our followers, and said, "Look, if
you all sit here and do what we're talking about or
you're talking about doing, you're going to defeat
this. But, one day, you're going to look up, and
you're going to have practically an all black center city.
The whites are going to have moved out. Your tax base has eroded.
You're going to have blacks running the government. The
whites are going to be gone. We're going to be in the
suburbs. They're going to be in the city. Is this what you
really want? Do you want Charlotte to be another Atlanta?" I
think maybe if we had presented it on this basis, maybe we'd
have had a lot of support and a lot of understanding that we
didn't have. Maybe we should have said this, in looking back,
even though I thought at the time and so did the people who were with us
that this was the wrong way to sell it. But, maybe it wasn't.
Maybe it was the right way to sell it. Maybe the truth would have been
the thing to have told. We would have come a whole lot closer, and we
might have won.