Cheek-Clark Building The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Carol McDonald on the historical legacies of Black workers rights

Excerpt Description: Carol McDonald describes how the connections between the BCC movement and the housekeepers’ movement were connected to the historical legacy of enslavement in the South.

Interviewee Name: Carol McDonald

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “You know, fighting for a Black cultural center can seem symbolic, but there are real-world repercussions to not recognizing, first of all, just the humanity and dignity of people who are here and how it even comes to be that you have a housekeeper and grounds keeping force that is primarily African American. That’s no accident. That is a function of history, and what is that history? Well, that is the history of enslavement and oppression in the South in particular, but in the country overall. So while we are fighting for the recognition and sort of the academic recognition of that, there’s also–and it plays out in real-world ways, including the way that we pay and treat our lowest-paid workers. We all saw that as very much connected. At the same time–and I don’t know how much you’ve come across this, too–there was the thing about the burial ground, right, the cemetery right behind Connor where there were many unmarked slave graves or graves of those who were enslaved where they would let people park during football games. That was also kind of–I wouldn’t call that a movement, but that was definitely an incident. That was sort of a moment that–of confrontation with the University where they would just, like, let people park there, and we’re like, ‘But, hey, people are buried there, and this is inconsiderate.'”

Organization: Black Student Movement, BCC Movement

Excerpt Length: 1:41

Interview Date: 3/31/2017

Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Campus Space: The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, Cheek-Clark Building

Citation:  Interview with Carol McDonald by Charlotte Fryar, 31 March 2017, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.