Lenoir Hall and Manning Hall

John Sellars on the relationship between Black students and Black community of Chapel Hill

Excerpt Description: John Sellars explains that the main difference between the BSM and the UNC NAACP was their identification with Black workers and Black citizens of Chapel Hill.

Interviewee Name: John Sellars

Interviewer: Alex Ford

Excerpt Transcript: “The thing that the BSM did that was different from the NAACP is that we identified with the people who were being–to use a better word–oppressed by the university. Because the people who–the women, the ladies who came in and cleaned up your rooms in the mornings–they were the people that lived next door to you. People who cleaned the grounds, picked up the trash–you knew somebody who was a groundskeeper at home. The people who worked in the laundry–I had an aunt who worked at a laundry in Burlington. So, it wasn’t so much, ‘These people here, they do this, because this is their status. And we’re students, and we’re a little bit above them because we’re students.’ I think it was, ‘We can relate, and there’s no difference between this woman who serves my food in the afternoons than my aunt who used to feed me in the afternoons.’ So that was one of the things, was that relational progress that was made between black students on campus and people who lived in town, or people who lived in town and worked for the university.”

Organization: Black Student Movement

Excerpt Length: 1:22

Interview Date: 11/8/2015

Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Campus Space: Lenoir Hall and Manning Hall

Citation: Interview with John Sellars by Alex Ford, 8 November 2015, N-0043 in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.