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H.D. Kirkpatrick oral history interview, 2017 November 17

 Digital Record
Identifier: KP-KI0005


  • 2017-11-17


In this fifth and final recording in a series of presentations and interviews with Jimmie Lee and H.D. Kirkpatrick, H.D. Kirkpatrick reflects on his family, his life experiences, and his shifting perspective on family and Southern history. Dr. Kirkpatrick describes how he was raised on land adjacent to Park Road, (once Avondale Avenue), an area that is now part of the Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte. He explains that the land had once been his grandfather's farm, Kirkwood Dairy, and that he had always understood that his ancestors were innovative dairy farmers. He describes how other relations owned similar farms in what became the Southpark area of Mecklenburg County, and that through his research he has established that his ancestors once owned as many as eight or nine plantations in Southern Mecklenburg. In particular Dr. Kirkpatrick discusses his fourth great grandfather, John Kirkpatrick who settled in the area in the 1760s after emigrating from Ireland, and who was a founding member of Sardis Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) Church. Dr. Kirkpatrick discusses his ancestors' role as enslavers, slave ownership, and how his great uncle, Charlotte mayor Thomas Leroy Kirkpatrick, embraced white supremacy. He reflects that during his childhood and adolescence he felt a tension between his life experiences, and the attitudes he encountered in his family church, Chalmers Memorial ARP Church. He discusses working for his mother's businesses, Kirkwood Catering and the Kirkwood Room restaurant, (the latter of which was based in his family's basement). Although Dr. Kirkpatrick found this experience to be arduous and intrusive of family life, it also gave him a window into a diverse world since he became closely acquainted with the employees, including African Americans and immigrants from Canada and Eastern Europe. He explains how attending his family church where he encountered intolerance, and working for his mother's businesses made him aware of segregation and racism. Dr. Kirkpatrick also talks about his student days at Harvard University and the prejudice he personally encountered there, how he became “radicalized” by protesting the Vietnam War, and his experiences working and studying in Charlotte and Berkeley, California where he earned multiple postgraduate degrees, including an MA in education and a PhD in Humanistic Psychology. At the end of the interview Dr. Kirkpatrick anticipates the work that he and Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick are launching to take their personal journey exploring the social and psychological effects of slavery to the public.


159 Minutes



Repository Details

Part of the Oral Histories, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 USA