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Interview with Miriam Bates

Bates, Miriam, 1926-
Dortch, LaDrea
Date of Interview: 
Bates, Miriam, 1926-; West Charlotte High School (Charlotte, N.C.); Hampton University (Va.); Johnson C. Smith University; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; First United Presbyterian Church (Charlotte, N.C.); Segregation; Segregation in education; Civil rights movements; African American neighborhoods; African American Greek letter societies; Presbyterian Church; Education; Urban renewal; North Carolina--Charlotte; North Carolina--Charlotte--Biddleville; Virginia--Hampton; Connecticut--New Haven; Interviews (Sound recordings); Oral histories
Miriam Bates recounts her life growing up in Charlotte, her college experience at Hampton University in Virginia, and her return to Charlotte in 1978. Mrs. Bates recalls growing up in the Biddlesville neighborhood in Charlotte, where she lived through high school. Her father was the principal of Second Ward High School, but she attended rival West Charlotte High School in the 1940s (both schools were segregated at the time). Mrs. Bates describes her neighborhood growing up as close-knit and safe, but she resented that her school received hand-me-down textbooks and band uniforms from the local white schools. After college she moved to New Haven, Connecticut, worked as a teacher, and had children in public schools. She describes the inequality in integrated schools there during the early 1960s and compares it with her experience when she was a student in a segregated high school in Charlotte. Mrs. Bates then recollects her time at Hampton University in Virginia, which she enjoyed, and participation as a charter member in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She moved back to Charlotte when she was in her 50s, and talks about her membership in the First United Presbyterian Church in uptown Charlotte and charitable activities of her church. She also discusses urban renewal and its impact on the African American community in Charlotte. Mrs. Bates concludes her interview by comparing the segregation of her childhood and adolescence with the civil rights movement of the 1960s when her children were growing up. She expresses her belief that the old physical barriers between whites and blacks are gone but subtle barriers still exist, and that people can fight this subtle inequality through education.
North Carolina--Charlotte; Connecticut--New Haven; 1930s - 2006
Interview Setting: 
Marty Saunders's home, North Carolina--Charlotte
Robert Smith student project on the Charlotte African American community
Interview Audio: