Excerpt Description: Shannon Brien describes how learning the legacy of past campus activism can be both discouraging and empowering, and explains that as the movement for justice continues, coalitions are becoming increasingly inclusive and intersectional.
Interviewee Name: Shannon Brien
Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar
Excerpt Transcript: “It’s both encouraging and discouraging when you learn about Yonni Chapman, who was a really big figure decades ago in recording the history of campus. And it’s encouraging because you see, oh I am part of this longer struggle, I feel good about making progress in some way, and you can see, you know, the Stone Center has been built, that’s been a big step forward. But then at the same time, it’s very disheartening to see that you’re still fighting those same struggles. But I think right now, this current round of activism is making it much more mainstream to be—I hate to use the word intersectional—but intersectional in so much as that current campus organizing is anti-racist and anti-capitalist. And, you know, tries to center queer folks and trans folks, it’s like focusing on all of these things at the same time and it’s making it, normalizing it. Whereas when you read about organizers not just on this campus but in general, like the 80s, you had women in the Black Panther movement who were saying oh, I really want to radical and be part of the Black Panthers but also I hate that y’all are so misogynistic. So, you know, I feel really confident in how current organizing has synthesized all of that so that no matter what space you’re in, you are attacking all of those systems of oppression at the same time.”
Excerpt Length: 2:01
Interview Date: 5/6/2016
Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Campus Space: McCorkle Place
Citation: Interview with Shannon Brien by Charlotte Fryar, 5 May 2016, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.