The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

John Bradley on the importance of Black women’s leadership

Excerpt Description: John Bradley describes the respect he had for the Black women who led the BCC movement, explaining how he learned not to emulate previous civil rights and social justice movements who diminished the capacity for leadership from Black women.

Interviewee Name: John Bradley

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “All of us loved and respected Michelle and Miss Margo, so there was never a—we never pushed away the ideas or the involvement of other women, because, again, for the most part, they were the majority of the leadership, majority of the committee members. Even for the diversity of the councils from the Campus Y to SEAC, those were mostly women, you know, period, black women, white women, you know, Asian. So we needed them, and I think that we understood that obviously this can’t become a male-driven, you know, leadership or movement, because there’s not enough of us to make an impact. Besides us four, I can’t really name a lot. I mean, there was Charles McNair, who—he also started a group called BRACE. I can’t even think of what that stood for. But there was just very few other black men or white men that were just involved. So because Michelle and Ms. Margo were so involved in the process with us—you know, again, like, they knew everything. There was nothing that happened that they didn’t know about, you know, even before things happened.
I think that grounded us to know that we’re not allowing this to become a part of a movement, which historically when you look at, you know, a lot of the movements from the NAACP to, you know, even Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and other groups, they were typically a male figurehead. You know, even the Black Panthers, the majority of the workers and people that got things done were women. I mean, even the black church, same thing. Usually the preacher’s a black male, but, you know, the congregation of people that actually get the work done are black women. So we were pretty cognizant that this can’t become sort of a misogynist really type of a dictatorship type of thing, but it had to be inclusion and had to be a respect for all.”

Organization: Black Awareness Council, Black Student Movement, BCC Movement

Excerpt Length: 2:14

Interview Date: 12/2/2017

Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Campus Space: The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Citation:  Interview with John Bradley by Charlotte Fryar, 2 December 2017, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.