- Goldmine: Root
- Oral History Collections
- Charlotte Regional Oral History
- James B. Lee oral history interview 2, 2018 May 29
James B. Lee oral history interview 2, 2018 May 29
In this second interview, community historian James Bradley Lee III continues to recall his personal experiences of growing up in Grier Heights, a historic African American neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina, and his concerns about the effects of gentrification in the community in recent years. During the interview he discusses the significance of founders and leaders in the community, including Sam Billings who, despite being born into slavery, was able to purchase the initial acreages that became known as Billingsville (later Griertown) in the late nineteenth century. He also discusses Arthur Grier, a prominent African American funeral director and developer who expanded the neighborhood for returning veterans in the 1950s, and he highlights the significant role of Grier Heights' five churches, which anchored the community. Mr. Lee describes the cohesion of the community when he was growing up and the positive influence of mentoring and summer camps such as Project Aries, which he would like to see re-introduced for local youth. He briefly outlines his military service, which took him away from the Grier Heights for some years, and he notes changes he saw in the community when he returned. He discusses how the crack cocaine epidemic impacted the community and explores the topics of generational poverty in Charlotte, and the lack of affordable housing within the neighborhood.