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Interview with John Willie Love

Love, John Willie, 1943-
McNeill, Yvette
Date of Interview: 
Love, John Willie, 1943-; West Charlotte High School (Charlotte, N.C.); Northwest Junior High School (Charlotte, N.C.); Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; Carver College (Charlotte, N.C.); Central Piedmont Community College (Charlotte, N.C.); Mecklenburg College (Charlotte N.C.); Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C. : 1916); Charlotte (N.C.). Department of Public Works. Engineering Division; United States Postal Service; Civil rights movement; Segregation in education; Racism; Race relations; Discrimination in employment; African American postal service employees; African American golfers; North Carolina--Charlotte; South Carolina--Chester; Interviews (Sound recordings); Oral histories
South Carolina native John W. Love discusses his life in Charlotte, N.C., and his personal experiences with segregation, the civil rights movement, integration, and race relations in the city. Originally from Chester, S.C., Mr. Love moved to Charlotte in the mid-1950s and attended segregated Charlotte City Schools before continuing his education at Mecklenburg College (later Central Piedmont Community College) and UNC Charlotte. Mr. Love returns to the topic of race and education throughout the interview, reflecting on the high value which the black community placed on education, the inequality of the segregated system, and the black experience with desegregation through busing. Although Mr. Love does not see himself as a civil rights activist, he acknowledges his significance as one of the first African Americans to integrate the workforce within both the Charlotte city government (the city engineering department and the post office) and the Charlotte Observer in the 1960s. He reflects on his uneasy position as a minority within these institutions and his awareness of prejudice within the wider community. He also remembers local and state civil rights activism and the retaliation of extreme white groups. In particular he recalls the death of his cousin Sandra Smith in Greensboro, who was killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan in 1979. However, Mr. Love also recalls Charlotte’s relative calm in comparison with other southern metropolitan areas, attributing this to successful communication that was facilitated by Charlotte’s black leadership. Considering contemporary challenges with respect to race, Mr. Love notes that job discrimination was still a major issue at the time of the interview and he stresses his own experience of prejudice within recreational sports and in particular golf. During the interview Mr. Love also describes the vibrancy of the black community and black businesses in Charlotte during the 1950s-1970s.
North Carolina--Charlotte; circa 1950 - 1970s
Interview Setting: 
John Love's home, North Carolina--Charlotte
Robert Smith student project on the Charlotte African American community
Interview Audio: