The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Renee Alexander Craft on coalition building across spaces and organizations

Excerpt Description: Renee Alexander Craft details how different campus organizations and interests feed into each other in a generative way, citing the Black cultural center movement as one that built a broad coalition through shared interests and investment across the campus.

Interviewee Name: Renee Alexander Craft

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “So I would go to BSM meetings, and the leadership of BSM is also on the BCC’s Advisory Board. Both in terms of the student leadership and some of the faculty leadership are some of the same people who are now planning for an Institute for African and African-American Research, who are some of the same people who are, you know, marching into—so the organizations each had their own membership, their own audience, and discrete, though sometimes overlapping, purposes. But those people moving them forward most were connected to the other organizations, and that’s meaningful in probably all the ways you’re imagining, but on a practical level, it meant that there weren’t a lot of times when the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. So you’re in a BCC Advisory Board meeting, let’s say, and you’re talking about the Center, and you can say, “Well, just yesterday, the things that the students are really upset about at the BSM meeting was so-and-so. So I know you’re planning to do this event, etc., on this day, but BSM students are planning to rally on that day.” You know?
So it allowed for mutual support and it allowed—at least one person in the room had been to some other meeting and could help in that way. Now, in terms of a broader structure, how did they work together, I can’t say. I don’t remember and I don’t know. I just don’t know. I will say this, though. I do think the Fishbowl and the magic of that space made a positive contribution, because regardless of which of those organizations you chose to activate through, sometime that week you were going to be in the BCC. You were going to be in that space, so even if you weren’t witness to each other in meetings, you were going to have lunch together or casual conversations together. There just was that necessary room to let, you know, these important casual interactions happen that strengthened some of the broader structural meetings and movements. Without that, you just can’t have as much. You can’t. You don’t care about each other in the same way. You don’t know each other in the same way. You have to have that protected space.”

Organization: BCC MovementBlack Student Movement, Sonja Haynes Stone Center Advisory Board

Excerpt Length: 2:49

Interview Date: 2/2/2017

Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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

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