Saunders Hall

Donelle Boose on the Black community of Chapel Hill

Excerpt Description: Donelle Boose states the obvious responsibility of students to recognize the Black community of Chapel Hill as part of the University’s community, which requires engagement with people and conversations happening off campus.

Interviewee Name: Donelle Boose

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “Because, all right, so Carolina the campus, right, are we talking about the majority of the students, majority of faculty, predominantly white, right? But if you’re looking at, like, service, right, there’s, like, there’s a black and there’s a white community that’s, like, coexisting here in this space, and I know that community, right? So, you know, I don’t know them in the way that like I grew up with them, but, like, I know it culturally, like working in the kitchen, cleaning up things, like you know what I’m saying? Like doing this kind of service work, doing this kind of labor, right? So just because that’s not my role there as a student, right, doesn’t mean that I don’t remember the connection and I don’t see it in front of me, you know.
So, for me, I think CHAT was a way for me to connect. It was like reinforcement in one way among many to connect with the community there. I absolutely connected with people in Orange County, in Chapel Hill, in ways that I wouldn’t have because of CHAT and because of the NAACP work, because I had to get off campus, I had to go talk to people, I had to—I’m doing things, meeting people, having conversations that I wouldn’t otherwise have. I’m sitting in Ms. Smith’s—I think it was Ms. Smith’s home at the time, you know, like, and that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, you know. I wouldn’t have learned that, I wouldn’t have been enriched, if I didn’t—if CHAT wasn’t there. But, like, the reason I was drawn to CHAT was because I already had this, you know, cultural feeling of, yeah, like, you know, you can’t—like, it’s almost obscene to me to think about, like, going to the college and just being, like, “Well, this is me now, you know. Let me just do what’s best for me,” you know.
Of course, I did very many things that were best for me in the process of going to college, these things to help me personally, but it wasn’t, you know, ever—one of the ways I show gratitude is through, you know, trying to increase access for other folks. And one of the ways you increase access for other folks is pointing out the problems in the system, being, you know, like, all right, let’s try to understand why is it that this campus is so white, right, and the service staff is not. How is it? What’s happening here? Who’s being left out and how is that happening? Right? I had those questions kind of coming in and CHAT kind of helped me to not only analyze them further, but also start to put together some answers to what I thought was going on there. So, yeah, it definitely connected me a lot closer to the folks in the community and helped me to think about, like, going further, how you can be part of any community, any new community that you go into, you know.”

Organization: Campaign for Historical Accuracy and Truth

Excerpt Length: 3:14

Interview Date: 11/17/2017

Interview Location: Washington, D.C.

Campus Space: Saunders Hall

Citation:  Interview with Donelle Boose by Charlotte Fryar, 17 November 2017, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.