The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Renee Alexander Craft on creating campus spaces of prestige and adaptation

Excerpt Description: Renee Alexander Craft describes how different spaces can interact with people, using the example of the first Black Cultural Center to describe a space that adapted to the needs and desires of students.

Interviewee Name: Renee Alexander Craft

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “Then there are wonderful pristine spaces, the marble halls, the polished floors, the nice painted walls that you shouldn’t touch without permission, you shouldn’t eat food in certain spaces. The space teaches you how to interact with it. It disciplines your body. I think we lacked a pristine space that had a sense of prestige and honor and that stood boldly with the other strong buildings on campus and said “I am here. I am valuable.” We wanted that pristine space because the Dr. Sonja Haynes Stone legacy deserved that and the Stone Center deserved that. Within that space, there needed to be an adaptive space that could be messy and that could learn from us and that could always be remade and redone. So I wanted to say that with the space. In a broader notion of space, the Coker Woods location, it was never a preference. It was never what we wanted. But of the remaining options, it felt like the best option. You know, I don’t know what would have happened had we said—you know, if those in charge could have said no to that space and waited, would there have been something? I really don’t know. At least it was in closer proximity than it might have been otherwise, but it does something to have it in a tree-blocked space across the street from campus that you never have to go to unless you want to. It needed to be in the center of campus, and I think that it has been hampered not being in the center of campus.”

Organization: BCC MovementBlack Student Movement

Excerpt Length: 2:03

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.