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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Arthur Griffin, May 7, 1999. Interview K-0168. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Value of history

Griffin continues to reflect on the value of history in this excerpt. He thinks that the history of black schools is important not only to black Charlotteans, but to white residents, too, who need to understand the role black people played and continue to play in their communities.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Arthur Griffin, May 7, 1999. Interview K-0168. 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

PG: What do you think that history means to people outside the black community? AG: Well, I hope it’s a reflection of the entire community, not just the black community. But, you know, a peek through the window of our past, with respect to who we were then. And gives us an opportunity to learn of qualities of life, the sacrifices that people made back then. The mistakes that were made. So that we can look at the future and say, you know, “Let’s incorporate those wonderful things that we were able to do back then in history, and let’s get rid of those things that were destructive and detrimental to a people back then.” And that’s why I think African-American history, the history of Charlotte, the history of black schools in Charlotte, is so important to the white community or the community at large , to understand where we’ve been, where we are to day, and where we hope to be tomorrow. It’s absolutely critical. And just for the black, knowing about Second Ward in the black community is not enough. The broader community needs to understand. Just a reflection: I built a house in southeast Charlotte, off Carmel Road, in 1978. And when my kids were growing up, we were in this predominantly white community. And again, they had the little youth athletic teams and cheerleading squads and stuff. And just talking to some of the parents, it was like, “But where is Beatties Ford Road? What is West Charlotte? Is that a school?” And it’s like a whole segment of the community had no idea where I grew up. My life. Me. And I’m saying, “Well, no, that’s So-and-So, and then that was Second Ward,...” And I understand that the importance of history is for the entire community. It may be about me and Second Ward, but it’s for the whole community to recognize that there was a school. Because I’m having conversations with some friends now that are white, “Second Ward? What happened?” “Well, there were wards back in the old days. There was a First Ward, and a Second Ward, and a Third Ward, and a Fourth Ward...” And just sitting down talking, “Oh, OK, well, that makes sense, the community was carved up into wards.” And it helped them understand a little bit about Charlotte’s history that happens to include Second Ward.