Retired Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr. said Friday that “black lives do matter” and called for Charlotte to come together in the wake of a violent week of protests.
“The time is now,” said McColl, the featured speaker at a free noon concert by the Charlotte Symphony. “I challenge everyone, particularly the white community, to begin today to talk with and listen to the concerns of each other.”
“Black lives do matter. All lives matter,” said McColl, whose speech was salted with quotes from Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King Jr.
The hour-long concert, “One Charlotte: A Performance for Peace,” was held in the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s Belk Theater. An estimated 300 people attended, according to the symphony.
Initially, the symphony planned to hold a show Thursday night, as it did last year, to give the public a sampling of performances from its upcoming season.
Those plans were canceled Thursday as Charlotte headed into a third straight day of protests. Instead, the symphony decided to hold the peace performance, an event organized so quickly musicians had no time to rehearse.
“Music is a great healer,” music director Christopher Warren-Green told the audience.
The concert followed three nights of protests ignited by the fatal Charlotte Mecklenburg police shooting on Tuesday of a black man, Keith Lamont Scott, in a University City apartment complex parking lot.
The demonstrations through uptown have ranged from peaceful to deadly. On Tuesday, Justin Carr, 26, died following a shooting while protesting in the area.
It’s an unusual period of sharp divisiveness and uncertainty for a city once regarded as a booming jewel of the New South. The city has long held itself up as a model of success fueled by a can-do attitude and strong collaboration between the civic and business community, which includes large banks like Charlotte-based Bank of America.
McColl, who helped build Charlotte into a major financial services hub during his empire-building years of acquiring other banks, on Friday noted a need to provide “economic emancipation” for people mired in poverty.
“It’s time to come together to solve our social and economic problems,” said McColl, 81. “The main thing we need to do is start talking with each other, not past each other.”