The Fishbowl The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Renee Alexander Craft on potentials for the Stone Center

Excerpt Description: Renee Alexander Craft states her love and support for the Stone Center and her wish for a social space for Black students within the building, similar to the space of the first Black cultural center.

Interviewee Name: Renee Alexander Craft

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “I love and support the Stone Center. I always have and I always will. I support it as a vision and I support it as a reality. I know that it has not yet lived up to what it can be. It has not yet had the resources. It has not yet had the space. It has not yet had what it needs to live up to its potential. I think a mistake we made—and I own this mistake as one of the people who was in the room brainstorming about what it could be—we didn’t think to make a space that was the Fishbowl. I will always regret that, because we had never known it not to have that vibrant space. You know, the Fishbowl space was an incubator, workshop space. It was an always unfinished project that we all got to come in and be part of, and you didn’t need an invitation and you didn’t need to be there for a purpose. You just had the ability to be there and then to find your role and to find your purpose. Because we already had that, we knew that that’s what it was. It was the taken-for-granted. It was the thing we never named because it was what we knew.
So, in the planning, we imagined what we didn’t have. We didn’t have a freestanding building. We didn’t have a library. We didn’t have a suite of offices that some of this necessary work could happen in. We didn’t have a space for some of the student organizations who would need to be in close proximity. We didn’t have a theater. We didn’t have an auditorium. So we thought about what we needed, and the building was going to be that. And I think as we dreamed forward, one, it was such a struggle to even get that far. We just never thought about the space we had. I think maybe if we had slowed down to imagine it, we might have assumed the office itself would still be what the Fishbowl was, like there would be that space built into it, but we never actively thought in schematics to build in that space. That was a mistake. The Stone Center needs that space. They need it. They just do. And so I want to continue being a part of those conversations in one way or another. Before I leave this university, I would like that space to be renewed.”

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

Excerpt Length: 3:05

Interview Date: 2/2/2017

Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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

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.