- Goldmine: Root
- Oral History Collections
- UNC Charlotte Honors College and Charlotte Action Research Project Interviews on Charlotte Neighborhoods
- Small But Significant : The Optimist Park Community
- Wade Hampton Ferguson oral history interview, 2016 March 16
Wade Hampton Ferguson oral history interview, 2016 March 16
Bishop Wade Ferguson discusses his relationship to the neighborhood of Optimist Park in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he has been the full time minister of the Fifteenth Street Church of God since 2006. Providing background to his role as minister, Bishop Ferguson describes his childhood growing up and attending school in several neighborhoods of Charlotte. He recalls working in Charlotte, first in local government and then for Bank of America until he felt called to the ministry. Although he has not lived in Optimist Park, Bishop Ferguson recalls his early familiarity with the neighborhood, which began when he drove his uncle to the area's liquor houses as a teenager. He describes the evolution of the community, from its mill town roots through struggles with urban poverty and problems with alcoholism, drugs, and crime, despite the solid families who have lived in the area. He notes that a significant issue of the present is a lack of food security, and he describes efforts to fix the problem, including a neighborhood farmers market and the restaurant-styled community dinners prepared by the Church of God to bring the community together. Bishop Ferguson states that his goal for the future is to encourage community cohesion and intergenerational cooperation. He sees this as particularly important in the light of recent gentrification, which has resulted from the building of light rail and new apartment complexes geared towards attracting a different socioeconomic demographic to the area.