Excerpt Description: Ed Chaney details the history of attacks against spaces for Black students on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and how that history culminated in the movement for a free-standing Black cultural center.
Interviewee Name: Ed Chaney
Interviewer: Sandra Davidson, Hudson Vaughan, Jonathan Tarleton, Zaina Alsous
Excerpt Transcript: “I think it really started back in the 70s when black students were such a substantial minority at Carolina coming out of the hostility of the civil rights movement there really wasn’t a place for them on campus, and so the Black Cultural Center itself became kind of a place where at the time–as I understand it I obviously wasn’t there–at the time that black students could find a home and find support and a cohort and you know just basically find support and home within this institution. And it was housed at the–I don’t know where it was housed when it was initially formed–but eventually it was housed at the Student Union. It was tiny little room really about the size of this upstairs. Well, it was actually smaller than this upstairs if you knocked down all the walls, and the administration at the time had promised some resources to create a free-standing center and had kept promising and kept promising and kept promising and never really come through with anything. Over time it just became this conflict that was real, and it was also symbolic. I mean it was sort of–. It was real in that the university never came through with anything and maybe it would have been OK if they had expanded it and given new space if there had not been all these other issues about Carolina’s role in the greater black community.
So all of those things I think sort of melded together to give this movement steam. So you know flash forward to the early 90s. You’ve got all these other issues going on with the housekeepers and there’s racial discrimination issues, and you’re looking around campus, and you see that every single building is named for a white person, some of whom were members of the KKK. You know, meanwhile the slaves are buried in unmarked graves over in the cemetery, and there was just no marker or institution or anything that celebrated black history or celebrated the accomplishments of black students and black faculty or black slaves or whoever contributed to building this institution. So one of the real driving forces behind creating the Black Cultural Center was because we wanted this institution to finally acknowledge it and come to grips with its own history and do it as a way of moving forward.”
Excerpt Length: 3:04
Interview Date: 10/16/2010
Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Citation: Interview with Ed Chaney by Sandra Davidson, Hudson Vaughan, Jonathan Tarleton, Zaina Alsous, 10 October 2010, L-0322 in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.