James William Kirk oral history interview 1, 2013 November 26
In this interview, James William Kirk, neighbor and alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, shares his knowledge of the institution’s present site on Highway 49 and the history of the surrounding area, including his family’s involvement in the site’s selection and the area’s development. He reflects on Bonnie Cone, recounting his first interaction with her when she visited his family’s home to recruit his father to lobby the site selection committee. He comments on her leadership style, discusses the advantages and disadvantages her gender gave her, and speculates as to why she was passed over for the chancellorship of UNC Charlotte. Mr. Kirk explains his motivation for beginning college in his 50s and his experience as a non-traditional student at UNC Charlotte. He also discusses community opinion on issues relating to the college, such as the selection of the Highway 49 site, Charlotte’s need for a university, the campaign for Charlotte College to be included in the Consolidated University of North Carolina, and the development brought to the campus area including the controversial public housing project. Other topics include his family’s land and its buyers, his service on UNC Charlotte’s alumni board, the Charlotte business community’s posture toward UNC Charlotte, the neighboring Mecklenburg County Home, and Charlotte College’s groundbreaking ceremony at the Highway 49 site, including his father’s estimation of its historical importance for the county.
James William Kirk was an 88-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place at his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in 1925. He was educated at Newell High School in Mecklenburg County and at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and was employed as a mail carrier in Charlotte. He also chartered Kirk Capital Corporation and served as chief judge of the Mecklenburg Board of Elections for Precinct 237.