The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Renee Alexander Craft on using academics in campus activism

Excerpt Description: Renee Alexander Craft explains the importance of access to academics and multiple ways of thinking about issues as a crucial part of developing an activist identity.

Interviewee Name: Renee Alexander Craft

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “In the broadest sense, I would say, it is amazing to be an activist on campus. There’s nothing like it in the world, in my opinion, and part of it is because when you leave campus and you’re an activist, then you’re with a group of people who have a set of skills who end up separating out based on those skills to do work. They’re united in passion and then they have to do the work, and everybody’s kind of researching on that issue. When you’re a student, the very nature of the classes you have to take mean that you’re not allowed to shrink down but so small, so you have to kind of continue moving around among a broader group of people and engaging a broader group of ideas. But it also means that, just as you are planning, you have the apparatus built into your structure to learn more about how to plan, to get theories about what happened before, to have a sense of history not because you go anyplace else, but you get to be here and do all of that. So my biggest thing would be to act as if that’s so. I was this way, at times, as a student, and I have heard other students be the same. It’s almost as if your classes are an inconvenience, because the work you really need to do is out on the street. Well, that means ask yourself what skills, what theories, what can you get from the classes you must take, and have you aligned yourself well in terms of your desires, your passions, etc., to be in a department that reflects the things that give you the tools to move your life forward in honor of your passions? Because if you are, then some of those theories and skills, etc., that feed your passion for the thing you want to do in life are also giving you the skills to do something in a movement, and if they’re not, then there are other classes you can take and other things you can do. So the biggest thing is don’t treat them as separate, and also to realize beyond classes, there’s a reservoir of ideas and people willing to share them at multiple levels here.”

Organization: BCC MovementBlack Student Movement

Excerpt Length: 2:27

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.