- Goldmine: Root
- Oral History Collections
- The Era Before Brown v. Board of Education
- James L. Ross oral history interview 3, 2005 March 22
James L. Ross oral history interview 3, 2005 March 22
James Ross, a native of Mecklenburg County, discusses his experiences with racial segregation and civil rights activism in Charlotte, North Carolina. Growing up in rural Grier Heights, Mr. Ross attended Billingsville Rosenwald Elementary School and Clear Creek High School before being transferred to the urban Second Ward High School as a result of city expansion. Education was segregated at the time in North Carolina, and only black students attended these three schools. Mr. Ross discusses his experiences serving in the United States Air Force in Texas, where he worked alongside whites for the first time, and his subsequent career in job development and consulting in Charlotte. Mr. Ross also relates his involvement with the Charlotte Bureau of Employment Training Placement, whose goal was to integrate the Charlotte workforce. In addition, he describes his work with Charlotte mayor Stanford Brookshire and Charlotte police chief John Ingersoll during the 1960s and 1970s to help improve communication and relationships between white and black residents of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, which included sensitivity training for white police officers. In particular, Mr. Ross stresses the important role that negotiations, humor, and peaceful protests played in bringing about a positive change in race relations in Charlotte during the 1960s-1980s.