The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Carol McDonald on the importance of self-empowerment for young people

Excerpt Description: Carol McDonald explains the importance for young people to see themselves as powerful and to see themselves as activists.

Interviewee Name: Carol McDonald

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “I want students to see themselves as activists and to see themselves as having power to make an impact, because if you look at–if you look at most social movements, they’re driven by young people. People my age and older, we’re for the most part–then we just sort of get saddled with the responsibilities of our lives and our families and paying a mortgage and doing whatever, but most social movements are driven by young people, and young people really can make a tremendous impact. But we often tell young people that they do not have the tools, skills, analysis, or knowledge to make that difference. I would say to student activists today, A, yay, thank you for being an activist. And beyond that, I personally try not to be too preachy about what I think I learned or what I think is the way, because it also changes. The particular needs change. Listen, the way that you even have the conversation changes with–I sound really old now. With the internet and with social media, you can have an entirely different conversation and engage people in a much broader way, and, again, I think that younger organizers now are using an analysis and a language that I think that we were scratching–we were scratching at the surface in my day, and we certainly didn’t talk about–we certainly didn’t talk about it with that language.”

Organization: Black Student Movement, BCC Movement

Excerpt Length: 1:45

Interview Date: 3/31/2017

Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Campus Space: The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

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.