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William Bonham, 2006 November 16

Identifier: OH-BO0473

Scope and Contents

William Frank Bonham discusses his life growing up in segregated Charlotte and his significant contributions to the community, in particular his involvement in the local branch of the NAACP and his career as one of the first black telegram delivery men. He also describes his experience playing football at Second Ward High School, and explains the differences between the racially segregated sports facilities. Mr. Bonham recalls the racial discrimination that blacks encountered when they entered white-owned establishments and the downtown shops' resistance to desegregation, as well as the police brutality that blacks endured from Charlotte's white police force. Further, he describes how economic hardship and racial discrimination threatened the survival of African American businesses. Examples he discusses include efforts to drive black-owned cab companies out of business in the late 1930s and the disproportionate closing or seizure of black-owned businesses by local government as part of Charlotte's urban renewal program during the 1960s.


  • Creation: 2006 November 16

Biographical / Historical

William Frank Bonham was a 79-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place at the office of former Congressman Mel Watt in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1927. He was educated at Alexander Street School and Second Ward High School, and was employed in Pender’s grocery store, as a telegram messenger, and as a security guard for a law firm.


70 Minutes

Language of Materials


Repository Details

Part of the Oral Histories, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

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