Do Boycotts Work ?

By Steve Crump - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -The controversial decision to hold classes on Martin Luther King Day and an upcoming White Supremacists' convention have sparked the community chatter.

So how effective is boycotting our city, and what are the pitfalls?

Decades ago, ushering in meaningful change meant relying on the power of the purse.

"We planned every night," according to Charles Jones.  "We assessed what happened during the day. We talked about the strategy the next day."

Jones who is a local activist lived it and recalls the strategy of Charlotte's downtown boycotts.

He said, "We were positive, creative, inclusive, non aggressive non violent."

The tone coming from the local NAACP may be aggressive.

Divisive words and talk of modern day protests by Kojo Natambu .

He said, "I still think that Charlotte is a bastion of racism."

The NAACP president is considering asking people to stay away from Charlotte during big time sporting events.

Back in the 1960's, boycotts were common in Center City Charlotte as a means of bringing about social improvements, but some 50 years so much has changed.

Herb White is the editor of the Charlotte Post and says when African Americans were picketing local businesses the mission was clearly defined.

Segregation became the obvious enemy, but the goal was equal access.

He said, "It was a much simpler time in America, 50, 60 years ago. Everybody shopped downtown."

White thinks that organized protests can stigmatize a city.

"It makes you look bad and that may be the secret to the entire episode. If charlotte is put on people's minds as a place that's less than hospitable, then maybe questions are raised."

Charles Jones says the effectiveness of any boycott comes down to the tone and tenor of the questions.

"Know up front the consequences of not just the symbolism, but also of the substance," he said.

It is a lesson that many have held on to both then and now.

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