The Washington Heights Community

Anne Steele oral history interview, 2015 April 11
Anne Steele recalls initially moving to the Historic Washington Heights community in Charlotte North Carolina to provide assistance to her aging aunt in the 1990s. Thinking about the twenty years she has spent living in the neighborhood, she remembers spending time at the Excelsior Club with friends and family. Today, she spends a large amount of time taking care of her grandson and taking him to explore the city's parks and museums. She discusses the construction of Habitat for Humanity homes in Washington Heights and how the residents of those homes have become a part of the community. At the end of the interview, she states that if she were to ever move, she would look for a neighborhood just like Washington Heights, because of its close knit community atmosphere.
C. Morgan Edwards oral history interview 2, 2015 April 12
Mr. C. Morgan Edwards discusses his life and upbringing in the Washington Heights neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina. Born and raised in the community and currently a resident, he recalls how during his youth the community was a mixed income neighborhood made up of mainly African-American professionals and educators, and home to institutions such as the Excelsior Club and Johnson C. Smith University. He discusses the role that his father, Carvin Marshall Edwards, had in the neighborhood as a professional photographer and one of the first members of the Excelsior club. Mr. Edwards describes the historic roots of his neighborhood, the changes it underwent during his lifetime, and in particular how the construction of the Brookshire Freeway impacted prominent neighborhood landmarks, including Biddleville Elementary School. He also discusses the effect that integration had on West Charlotte High School and their paired school during desegregation, Myers Park High School. In addition, he describes his own employment: working in Harris grocery stores before they became Harris Teeter stores, catering in the Myers Park Country Club, enlisting in the Navy and pursuing a career as a senior official for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Mr. Edwards also discusses the drastic change Washington Heights and other neighborhoods along Beatties Ford Rd. corridor underwent between his graduation from Johnson C. Smith and his return to the area from military service. He notes that the neighborhood had become run down and depleted, which he attributes to the effects of urban renewal in Charlotte.
Mattie Marshall oral history interview 1, 2015 October 31
In this interview, Mattie Marshall, president of the Historic Washington Heights Neighborhood Association in Charlotte North Carolina, discusses her origins as a sharecropper's daughter in Georgia, her family's migration north to New York, her work at the New York Stock Exchange, her attendance at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and her return South to settle down in Historic Washington Heights where she has lived for twenty-six years. She explains her role as president of the neighborhood association, emphasizing the importance of educating the younger generation so they may preserve their community's history. The neighborhood has been challenged by problems such as the construction of the Brookshire Highway that cuts through the community, drug trafficking, and the negative impact of urban renewal. Striving to meet these challenges, Ms. Marshall stresses the need to preserve the neighborhood's history; the landmarks, events, and generations of residents that have shaped the community into what is is today. Ms. Marshall also describes how Johnson C. Smith University and the Excelsior Club contributed to the development and culture of Washington Heights.
Mattie Marshall oral history interview 2, 2015 November 13
In the second of two interviews, Mattie Marshall, the current president of Historic Washington Heights Neighborhood Association in Charlotte, North Carolina, emphasizes the importance of preserving the history of Historic Washington Heights and how the neighborhood has progressed in more recent years. She describes the evolution of the streetcar, and the current need for mass transit. Ms. Marshall notes many initiatives such as community policing, National Night Out, and the light rail project that have made this area enticing. She also stresses the importance of education and the need to shape education to the needs of youth.
Shateah Marshall oral history interview, 2015 April 10
Shateah Marshall, a twenty-four year old resident of Washington Heights in Charlotte, North Carolina, discusses her perspective on the neighborhood as a younger resident. She relates that her family has lived in the neighborhood for four generations and notes that her grandfather Clarence jointly owned the Excelsior Club. Ms. Marshall explains that she attended the local schools, Northwest School of the Arts and West Charlotte High School. She describes attending the neighborhood summer camp and Youth Service Academy, which were organized by community leader Mattie Marshall. Shateah Marshall also fondly remembers neighborhood events, including the annual Summer Fest at L. C. Coleman Park and neighborhood cleanups. In addition she reflects on changes in the neighborhood, noting that it is significantly cleaner than it had been in the past despite many misconceptions among outsiders.
Vera Williams oral history interview, 2015 November 18
In this interview, Vera Williams, a resident of Washington Heights in Charlotte North Carolina, describes the changes that have taken place in the neighborhood since she moved there in 1984, and the issues she sees remaining in the community. Mrs. Williams details how she moved to Washington Heights to live with her husband, Clarence Williams, who worked with her at the Excelsior Club beginning in the late 1980s, and notes that her daughters and grandchildren also live in the neighborhood. She addresses the role that fellow resident Mattie Marshall has played in improving the neighborhood by working towards decreasing drug activity, teaching community members how to properly dispose of trash, leading after school programs, and holding monthly neighborhood meetings. Recalling the community events held in the neighborhood, Mrs. Williams highlights Christmas dinners at the Excelsior Club as well as cookouts in L.C. Coleman park. She expresses concern about problems the neighborhood continues to face, such as a lack of communication, and inadequate park development.