Saunders Hall

Erica Smiley on the importance of the history of the Black Student Movement

Excerpt Description: Erica Smiley explains the uniqueness of the Black Student Movement as partially directed by learning the history of the organization.

Interviewee Name:
Erica Smiley

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “Compared to other campuses that I’ve, like, been on since Carolina where there’s a Black Student Association, the history of the BSM has always been—and just like any good organization, like, you learn the history as soon as you come in. Like, people teach you the history of the Black Student Movement, and so it was created as a movement organization in response to the political conditions of that time, and I’ve always felt like the Black Student Movement was unique in that way, because there’s not a Black Student Movement on a lot of campuses. There are Black Student Associations. But they were always clear that it was a movement and that it was in motion and it was in response to different things. And so, yes, I found it to be very clearly politically oriented, but at the same time, what I’ll say about it and what I always appreciate about it, is that it wasn’t all that it was.”

Organization: Black Student Movement

Excerpt Length: 0:53

Interview Date: 12/8/2017

Interview Location: Washington, D.C.

Campus Space: Saunders Hall

Citation: Interview with Erica Smiley by Charlotte Fryar, 8 December 2017, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.