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Community Relations History


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee (CRC)  was formed in 1961 when then-Mayor Stanford R. Brookshire appointed a group of citizens to address race relations in Charlotte. The committee first intervened in a major public controversy when a group of African-American citizens protested discrimination in public facilities.

The CRC has been an integral part of the human relations support system for the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County for more than 50 years. The human relations issues that Charlotte faces today are broader and require more depth of understanding to resolve. For example, we encouraged and facilitated community dialogue surrounding the removal of the confederate flag at historic Elmwood Cemetery​.

CRC publications that once narrowly focused on black and white racial tensions and are now available in a number of languages and address a myriad a intergroup ethnic, cultural, religious and racial issues.

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charlotte-mecklenburg community
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relations its place in charlotte history
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then and now I'm Tom Hanson I'm
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community historian and you can find
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more of my work at WWDC South org I
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retired recently from Levine Museum of
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the new south where I was the staff
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historian for many years I've also
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worked with Historic Landmarks
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Commission in Charlotte Charlotte
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Mecklenburg Community Relations is the
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human relations agency for the City of
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Charlotte and Mecklenburg County the
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department seeks to enhance community
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harmony and promote awareness of
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Charlotte Mecklenburg growing
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multiculturalism by facilitating
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community dialogue addressing
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discrimination through enforcement of
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the city's fair housing ordinance
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collaborating with the police
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serving as mediators in conflict
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resolution and ensuring Americans with
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Disability Act compliance Charlotte
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Mecklenburg community relations has its
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roots in the civil rights movement in
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Charlotte and what I'd like to do today
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is give a sense of how the organization
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came to be but also to place it in its
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wider context I'm going to start out by
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talking about the era of deepening
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segregation from the 1900s into the
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1960s that sets the stage for the civil
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rights movement in general and
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specifically for the Community Relations
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office then I'll talk about that civil
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rights movement and how the office got
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its start in 1961 finally I'll talk
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about Charlotte's changing ethic and
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racial landscape today particularly with
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regard to housing and geography part 1
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deepening racial segregation today if
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you go to Levine Museum of the new south
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you can see the actual white and colored
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signs from Charlotte city hall most of
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us who are older Charlatans older
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southerners remember these painful
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symbols of segregation the
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separate-but-equal world as it was
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called it was always separate was never
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equal and a few people though are
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familiar with how
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all of that got started the fact is that
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racial segregation housing segregation
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was not as pronounced in the late 19th
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century as it was in my youth if you
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look at Charlotte into the 1890s you can
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see a surprising amount of mixture for
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instance at the lower left of this slide
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you'll see spirit square the white
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Baptist Church built in the years right
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after 1900 and at the top of the slide
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with the blue dot is first United
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Presbyterian Church a black church built
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at a almost the same time it's cross
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from Levine Museum of the new south in
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my youth it would be inconceivable that
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these two churches would be built so
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close together my book sorting out the
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New South City goes into this in more
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detail if you're interested in in
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checking out that history I apologize
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for showing this slide this is a tough
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part of our history but this is really
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important because it was a time that was
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a hinge in history for the south and
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indeed for the United States in the
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1890s there was an economic downturn an
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honest-to-god depression much worse than
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the recession that we've recently lived
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through the 2008 recession and I don't
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know about you but I've noticed that
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politics has become kind of more ugly a
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lot more name-calling a lot more
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willingness to blame them
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ever since 2008 well imagine what things
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were like in the 1890s the beginning of
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the tumult came as ordinary white folk
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not the men of property and standing but
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but ordinary working-class folks small
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farmers joined with African Americans
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who could still vote in North Carolina
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well into the 1890s in something called
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diffusion and they began using
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government to help the little guy
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it brought a backlash the men of
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property and standing did not like that
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how dare you take government out of the
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hands of the men who own the property
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and put it in the hands of those who are
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ignorant and own no property said the
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mayor of Charlotte it was time said the
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Charlotte Observer which was very much
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on the side of the men of property it
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was there were their advertisers it is
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time to end this rule of Negroes in the
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lower-class of whites it's a statewide
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movement to use white supremacy as a
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wedge issue they called it the white
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supremacy campaign and you can see here
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that this cartoon and the Raleigh News
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and Observer shows the monster Negro
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rule having laid waste North Carolina
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its foot is on our ballot box it's hands
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are reaching out for our women and
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children if you can convince people that
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their economic interests are at stake
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and that their safety of their women and
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children is at stake then you got them
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and indeed this campaign worked in 1900
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North Carolina along with many other
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southern states voted in a new
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constitution with voter suppression poll
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tax you had to pay to vote a literacy
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test which sounds innocent but you had
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to be able to read and interpret the
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Constitution to the satisfaction of the
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registrar voting participation nosedived
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in North Carolina and all across the
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south well that's the politics but what
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happened with the hate that was stirred
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up in the 1890s was the
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separate-but-equal Jim Crow system that
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I grew up with 50 60 years later
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separate black and white water fountains
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1896 first time in charlotte there are
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separate black and white waiting rooms
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at the Seaboard airline radient railroad
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station you have to sit at the back of
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the bus if you're african-american
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that's a new state law in 1903 you know
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you have to swear on a Bible in court
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right after 1900 in the
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charlotte-mecklenburg courts there are
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separate
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eight and colored Bibles and that kind
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of separation carries through to all
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aspects of society there are deed
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restrictions that suddenly appear out in
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the suburbs of Elizabeth and Dilworth
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places like that that say you cannot buy
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property here unless it is to be used by
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members of the Caucasian race for a
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house costing not less than X number of
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dollars which is not just racial
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segregation but also economic
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segregation and you can see it indeed in