The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Carol McDonald on her arrest in South Building

Excerpt Description: Carol McDonald describes the series of events that eventually led to her arrest by UNC campus police.


Interviewee Name: Carol McDonald

Interviewer: Charlotte Fryar

Excerpt Transcript: “It was very surreal because it happened very slowly. So, my recollection of this is that he [Paul Hardin] had first called the town police because we were going to get taken to jail. So he had first called the town police, and Chapel Hill police didn’t want anything to do with us. They were like, “That’s a campus issue. Go handle that.” Then, he called the campus police, and the campus police, they had to do what he said, but they were also reluctant. They didn’t come in sort of gangbusters, “Oh, yeah, let’s round up these troublemakers, these lawbreakers.” We had befriended a lot of them in our work with them over the years, planning all these protests, and I think that privately a lot of them as individuals were with us. The way that the arrest then unfolded was interesting, right? There’s—it was like, “People have to leave, or you’re going to get arrested.” That went on for almost forty-five minutes to an hour, and that’s how the giant group of 300 got whittled down to, “OK, so these seventeen really are not going anywhere, so these are the ones that we have to do something with.” What they did is the pulled a van—they were taking us all at once, so they pulled a van around the front of South Building. There were those steps that you—I don’t know if it’s still like that, but there were steps that you walked down, and the van was there. They took us out one by one, [laughs] which—I bet a more media-savvy administration and police department would have handled that differently, because it’s basically seventeen different photo ops, right? And we came out, one by one, escorted by—we were not handcuffed, but escorted by a police officer and walked into—and then carried into the van. The students had gathered around the van, so the 300 who had left the building didn’t go home. They’re around, so it was this administration-made rally at that point then. I remember being one of the last people to come out, so I’m leaving the building—this is so dramatic now when I think about it, but I was in tears, just boo-hooing, boo-hooing, “I can’t believe this is happening.” I get walked out of the door, and then I’m standing there about to, like, walk down the steps, and I just kind of raise my fist, and the crowd goes nuts. [Laughs] It’s like this insane moment. It felt very surreal.”

Organization: Black Student Movement, BCC Movement

Event Mentioned Date: 4/15/1993

Excerpt Length: 2:49

Interview Date: 3/31/2017

Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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

Citation:  Interview with Carol McDonald by Charlotte Fryar, 31 March 2017, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.