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Oral history interview with Diane English, May 19, 2006

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Creator:English, Diane, 1957-
Creator:Thuesen, Sarah Caroline
Title:Oral history interview with Diane English, May 19, 2006
Date:2006 May 19

This is the first in a two-part series examining the community activism of Diane English. English begins the interview by recalling her early childhood in rural Union County, North Carolina, which she says was isolated from white racism. When English was a young child, her family moved to urban Charlotte, where she was confronted by the realities of racial segregation. She describes the impact of the civil rights movement in Charlotte, and argues that white racism persisted in newly desegregated schools. Discrimination, coupled with her need to contribute financially to her family's household, led English to drop out from Second Ward High School. After a brief stint in Washington, D.C., where she witnessed urban rioting, she left that city for her own safety and returned to Charlotte. English describes her job as a pipe fitter for Duke Power's Catawba Nuclear Plant, an occupation in which women made up approximately ten percent of the workforce. Although she enjoyed the work, the long commute and the cost of childcare posed a difficult challenge. She left her employment with Duke Power and took a position with the Charlotte Area Transit System. The job paid less, but was located closer to her home, which made it easier for the single mother to care for her two daughters. English was soon able to afford a house, and purchased one that was known as the drug haven in her Belmont neighborhood. She describes the tensions between the city, the drug dealers, and the police and explains why she remained in the neighborhood despite the violence of the neighborhood. In 1999, she organized a Neighborhood Crime Watch and appealed for assistance to the Charlotte City Council. The spread of neighborhood gentrification was yet another challenge she and her neighbors faced; she describes how she organized Belmont residents to cooperate with city officials to design a plan to protect the interests of homeowners in the community. However, the city chose to endorse the federal Hope VI initiative, which English argues will ultimately displace local homeowners.

The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the aggregation and enhancement of partner metadata.

Types:Transcripts | Sound recordings | Oral histories
Subjects:English, Diane, 1957- | Community activists--North Carolina--Charlotte | African American women--North Carolina--Charlotte | African Americans--North Carolina--Charlotte--Social conditions | Charlotte (N.C.)--Race relations | African Americans--Housing--North Carolina--Charlotte | African American neighborhoods--North Carolina--Charlotte | Drug traffic--North Carolina--Charlotte | Police-community relations--North Carolina--Charlotte | Charlotte (N.C.) | Mecklenburg County (N.C.)
Collection:Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
Institution:Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Contributors:Southern Oral History Program | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project) | University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library | Oral histories of the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project))
Online Publisher:[Chapel Hill, N.C.] : University Library, UNC-Chapel Hill. | 2008
Original Material:

Title from menu page (viewed on Nov. 14, 2008).

Interview participants: Diane English, interviewee; Sarah Thuesen, interviewer.

Duration: 01:39:37.

This electronic edition is part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South. It is a part of the collection Oral histories of the American South.

Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer. Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers.

Related Materials:

Forms part of Oral histories of the American South collection.

Persistent Link to Item:http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/U-0183/menu.html