The Fishbowl

Michelle Thomas on the dynamic social space of the Black Cultural Center

Excerpt Description: Michelle Thomas details the dynamic social space of the old Black Cultural Center in the Student Union and describes some of the events that were held there.

Interviewee Name: Michelle Thomas

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “Eight hundred square feet on the first floor of the Student Union, right when you walk in from the Pit. It was enclosed in glass on three of the four sides. It was the center of my university the entire time I was there. You know, one of the beautiful things about Margo [Crawford] is she did not impose her programming upon us. She allowed us to create what we wanted and what fed our spirits. She guided us in that process, and then she had her own programming that she created that was stuff she wanted to expose us to and that she knew that we probably wouldn’t have known to ask for. But it was through the Black Cultural Center that we created Around the Circle, which was a weekly series where we would gather together. It was led by a couple of graduate students, Tyson King Meadows, and Mike Jennings, and Ellington Graves, and we would gather around the circle once a week and take up serious topics that were impacting the black community and have spirited discussion. It was amazing, like we would go for hours. And we often had—there were some that would pop in pretty regularly that had a contrary position and loved playing the devil’s advocate. And they made us sharpen our teeth. We became excellent debaters in a civil way, we respected everyone’s right to their point of view but we held onto our points of view very strongly. So lots of passionate discussion.”

Organization: BCC MovementBlack Student Movement

Excerpt Length: 2:25

Interview Date: 12/26/2017

Interview Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Campus Space: The Fishbowl

Citation: Interview with Michelle Thomas by Charlotte Fryar, 26 December 2017, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.