UNC Charlotte graduate students conducted the interviews in this collection in 2004 and 2007 as the centerpiece of a class on “Oral History and Memory” directed by professor Karen Flint. They titled their project and website the “Brooklyn Oral History Project,” reflecting the popular local name for Second Ward in uptown Charlotte. Brooklyn, a thriving African American neighborhood from the early to mid-twentieth century, became Charlotte’s first urban renewal project. City planners largely demolished Brooklyn’s neighborhoods and businesses during the 1960s to make way for a new government center and city park.
The oral history project sought to document Brooklyn’s history, including social, cultural and economic aspects of the neighborhood; how Charlotte residents were affected by its destruction; perceptions of why the district was targeted; the process of negotiation between city officials and community members over compensation for loss of property; and how various stakeholders understood the projected outcomes of the neighborhood’s demise. The majority of interviews represent people who lived in or were closely involved with life in Brooklyn, although project members also sought the voices of policymakers involved in the urban renewal process.