Ellison Clary oral history interview, 2012 May 25
In this interview, Mr. Ellison Clary, Charlotte native and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, tells of his experience growing up in Charlotte in the 1950s, attending Charlotte College and UNC Charlotte during the pivotal years of 1963 to 1968, and interacting with Bonnie Cone. He describes his neighborhood and his high school days at Harding and Garinger high schools, recollects his start in the newspaper business, and explains his first impressions of Bonnie Cone and Charlotte College’s new campus off Highway 49. He recalls his involvement as columnist and editor of the university’s student paper and as class representative in student government. He describes several memorable professors, such as Jamgotch, Wade, Brenner, Winningham, Rieke, Randazzo, Ellis, Robbins, Morrill, and Witherspoon; African-American students, such as Betty Potts, Ben Chavis, and Ron Caldwell; and other influential students, such as Frank Jones, Larry Keith, Gene Johnson, and Joe Price. He reflects on the Civil Rights movement and his understanding of it from Dorothy Counts’ arrival at his high school (Harding High School), to Stokely Carmichael’s visit to UNC Charlotte, to his interviewing Reginald Hawkins for a class. Mr. Clary also comments on the Vietnam War and the sentiment concerning both the war and civil rights issues among young Southerners. Other topics include student response to Charlotte College’s inclusion in the UNC System and to Dean Colvard’s appointment as Chancellor instead of Bonnie Cone, the rivalry between UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Charlotte, the original student union (now Cone University Center), the creation of a football program at UNC Charlotte, Hugh McColl and Bank of America’s relationship with the university, coach Harvey Murphy and the growth of the athletics program, student life in the 1960s, and Mr. Clary’s involvement with the alumni association. Regarding Bonnie Cone, he shares how she would explain why she could not be Chancellor, remembers her persistence and determined vision for the college, and recounts excursions with her to Charlotte businesses and to Raleigh for her to “show off” her students and raise support. Finally, he speculates about her opinion of present-day UNC Charlotte and whether or not it would exist without her.
Ellison Clary was a 67-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place at UNC Charlotte Center City in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born in Charlotte in 1944 and was educated at UNC Charlotte. He was employed as a reporter and editor for several newspapers across the South, worked in corporate affairs for Bank of America in Charlotte, ran a public relations agency in Charlotte, and served as Director of Charlotte Community Relations for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.