SEAALC Brings Charlotte Mayor to UNCW
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 14:02
Anthony Foxx, mayor of Charlotte, shared his experiences as an African-American politician in front of crowd of UNC Wilmington students, faculty and Wilmington residents in the Burney Center on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Foxx is the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina and was invited by the Upperman African American Center to give a keynote speech as a part of the 20th anniversary of the South Eastern African American Leadership Conference. The SEAALC is an event to develop leadership qualities in African-American students attending UNCW. This year’s theme was “Remembering Our Roots as We Reach for the Sky”.
Incorporating his own life experiences, Foxx explained the impact of race on his life and the role of “purposeful struggle”. According to Foxx, purposeful struggle is “when you have a noble purpose in mind and you seek to achieve it and you work for it, knowing it will not be easy.”
Using Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott as examples, Foxx described the struggles African Americans faced to get to the position they are at now.
A fifth generation North Carolinian, Foxx traced his family line to a young seven year old girl sold into slavery on at an auction block in Carthage, NC during the 1860s. Following the Civil War that little girl had a son who would receive a fifth grade education, the best an African American could receive at that time period. That man fathered 14 children, all of whom went to college. Of that fourteen included Foxx’s grandmother, inspiring him to become the reputable figure he is today.
“In over five generations my family has went from slavery to leading the largest city in North Carolina. That’s the American dream” Foxx said, during his speech.
A Charlotte native, Foxx is the second African-American mayor Charlotte has elected. Upon graduation from West Charlotte High School he attended Davidson College where he was the first African-American student body president ever elected, graduating with a degree in history.
Upon college graduation he earned his law degree at New York University School of Law in 1996. After an assortment of prestigious jobs in the United States Department of Justice and the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, his political career began with an election to Charlotte City Council in 2005 with a re-election in 2007.
In 2009 Foxx was able to beat his fellow city council member, John Lassiter, to become the mayor of Charlotte. He is serving out his second term today.
“I’ve been so lucky growing up in Charlotte. I had access to a great neighborhood and public safety. The city was a place that gave me the idea I can do whatever I wanted. I want that for every child.” Foxx said
Charlotte is known as for the city that most accepted desegregation in North Carolina when busing was implemented to integrate schools by the Swan v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1971.
Cities across America reacted to the decision with ferocity and racial indifference. However, Charlotte proved different. Some of the most prominent white families enrolled their kids into the newly desegregated school district, making Charlotte, a city now home to an African American mayor, known as “the city that made desegregation work.”
Focusing on the African American youth, Foxx left the room with luring advice for UNCW students.
“There are disparities and data and statistics that say none of us ought to be in this room today. And yet we are here. So as we recognize the challenges upon us, ignore them. Be who you are. Achieve the best you can achieve. Lift yourselves up and lift each other up. And in the process you will not only take stock in the past, you will reach high to the sky.”