Alfred Alexander oral history interview, 2001 May 10
Alfred Alexander describes his early life in Charlotte, North Carolina during the 1950s-1970s as the son of prominent civil rights pioneer Kelly Alexander Sr., a leader in the Charlotte and the North Carolina branches of the NAACP. As a child he lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood, and he recalls having limited access to certain public spaces and separate public facilities in the downtown area because of the local laws that enforced racial segregation. The Alexander family was central in the fight against racial discrimination in Charlotte, and Mr. Alexander discusses how his father gained strong local support for the NAACP’s core philosophy of using legal action to bring about change and promote interracial cooperation. He also discusses his experience as a student at West Charlotte High School during the first years of school integration. He talks about the lack of physical violence in most student disputes, the school administration’s implementation of integration policies and student assignment plans, and his work on the NAACP Youth Council to protest busing policies that were disproportionately unfair for black students. However, Mr. Alexander recalls that while racial violence was minimal in schools, it was not absent from the Charlotte community. He describes the night his home, and the homes of his uncle Fred Alexander and two other civil rights activists were bombed in 1965, and vividly recalls it as a frightening and emotional experience. Mr. Alexander goes on to explain that the attack ultimately had a positive effect on race relations in Charlotte because it united black and white members of the community together in their efforts to combat violence.