Benjamin Chavis Jr. oral history interview, 2005 February 7
Dr. Benjamin Chavis recounts his involvement in the black student movement on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte during the late 1960s to the early 1970s, when he was one of a small but politically active cohort of African American students on campus. He discusses his campus activism, including his role in student groups including UNCC Students for ACTION and the Black Student Union, introducing Stokely Carmichael as a speaker on campus in 1968, and leading the black student protests in February 1969. He explains that his goal was to make the university more inclusive and to connect it to the wider community. Dr. Chavis also discusses how the students and the administration worked together to create a lasting African American Studies program (now the Department of Africana Studies), and his pride at seeing how the department had grown and strengthened over the years. Other topics discussed include the racism he experienced growing up in Oxford, North Carolina, his civil rights work in Charlotte, Vice Chancellor Bonnie Cone's response to the student protests, and his academic experience in UNC Charlotte's Chemistry Department.
Benjamin Chavis was a 57-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place at UNC Charlotte. He was born in Oxford, North Carolina in 1948. He was educated at UNC Charlotte, Duke University, and Howard University, and was employed as a minister, a civil rights activist, and a non-profit executive. From 1993-1994, he was the executive director and CEO of the NAACP.