Upendo Lounge

Henry Foust on early attacks against the Black Student Movement

Excerpt Description: Henry Foust explains the history of attacks against the Black Student Movement and Upendo Lounge from Student Government and the Carolina Union through the 1970s.

Interviewee Name: Henry Foust

Interviewer: Monique LaBorde

Excerpt Transcript: “But there were several times during our time here when the student government, for some reason or another, either denied funding to BSM for a particular activity or cut the budget back. There was an investigation of alleged impropriety and mishandling of money. There was at least, I think, one attempt, it might have been to close Upendo. There was something that they were going to do to Upendo and that was it. You can talk about money all you want to but you’re talking about closing Upendo, you’ve got a fight on your hands. It’s like, “You are not closing that because that’s our spot.” So that kind of stuff happened and it was kind of like, “We just want to be here. Just treat us like you treat the rest of the organizations on campus and just let us do what we’re going to do. Why is this becoming an issue every time?” It seemed like every year there was some issue that came up where student government or somebody in the administration made some kind of decision that–we’re again going back to, “What kind of sense does that make?” The real crazy thing was they had a habit of doing this right around the beginning of October. And so we were smart enough to go, “Okay. This is happening the end of September, beginning of October. So in about two weeks you’re going to have University Day and everybody’s going to be here. All the politicians are going to be here. All of them are going to be here. You just gave us our platform.” And we would just wait. They would do something dumb. We would just wait for a week and then we’d have our protest right in the middle of the university. There are pictures in the yearbook; there might be some in here, of us lining the sidewalk at Memorial Hall where the professors are going through. And then there’s other pictures where inside Memorial Hall you’ll see black students standing around the outside wall with signs. And we’re like, ‘Really? You couldn’t have waited two weeks? You just gave us this huge platform to talk about what we’re upset about.’ We’re just thinking, ‘This is crazy. You all are not thinking. You all really wanted to be–. We’re not worried about anybody doing anything dangerous because you all are too dumb to think through this stuff. You could have done this a lot better, had a lot less publicity. You’re giving us a platform to tell our story.'”

Organization: Black Student Movement

Event Mentioned Date: 10/12/1976

Excerpt Length: 2:24

Interview Date: 11/24/2015

Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Campus Space: Upendo Lounge

Citation: Interview with Henry Foust by Monique LaBorde, 24 November 2015, N-0036 in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.