The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Carol McDonald on the long struggle for justice and caring for yourself

Excerpt Description: Carol McDonald explains that the movement for justice is long and continual, which means people can step in and out of activism as they need to in order to take care of themselves.

Interviewee Name: Carol McDonald

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “Yes. I think the biggest thing is that the overall fight is a long-term thing, and we have an opportunity to make a contribution in the moment, but we can’t–you can’t wear yourself out, because justice isn’t going to be won tomorrow, unfortunately. [Laughs] I very much have this awareness of, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s OK to take breaks. It’s OK to check out when you need to.” There was a time when–I did not graduate for six years, and at some point I had to say to myself, “OK, you’re not a professional activist. You need to be a student and get a degree and finish up some coursework, get better grades than you’re getting right now, focus and pay attention.” That’s a lesson that I continue to look back on and have to remind myself that it’s–we’re all in this for the long haul, and we have to take care of ourselves in the meantime. So you do your best when you can, and then it’s OK to step back, because you can always step back up. You can always get back in. There’s always something to contribute to that you can be a part of.”

Organization: Black Student Movement, BCC Movement

Excerpt Length: 1:32

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.