Rosena H. Gaines oral history interview, 2004 March 25
Rosena H. Gaines describes her early life in Charlotte's Brooklyn neighborhood, and her experiences as both a student and a teacher at Second Ward High School. As a student at Second Ward, Mrs. Gaines recalls an active and involved student body participating in student organizations, sporting events, and after-school activities. She then recounts the close-knit relationships she formed with students and their parents after returning to Second Ward High School as a teacher. Mrs. Gaines also recalls her experiences mentoring and motivating troubled youth. Specifically, she discusses her use of unconventional methods to reform unruly student behaviors as well as her efforts to encourage her students to be ambitious and to set high academic goals. She also describes the sense of love and community spirit throughout Brooklyn and how that was lost when the neighborhood was demolished during the 1960s as a part of Charlotte's urban renewal program. In particular, she discusses the Brooklyn community's ambivalent reaction to urban renewal. Mrs. Gaines recounts how some community members did not want to block economic progress, while many other people opposed urban renewal but felt that their opinions had no effect on the outcome.