In this interview, Candace Heald, Brown University class of 1974, discusses her experiences as a member of the last Pembroke College class, as well as her experiences learning about and adapting to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Heald begins by detailing her family’s legacy at Brown, her admission process, and her path to becoming a history concentrator. She describes the benefits of the open curriculum, which was just beginning at the time, as well as other changes on campus such as coed dormitories and bathrooms. She shares stories of taking gym class with Arlene Gorton, and male students going to the Pembroke campus for “panty raids” when female students tossed underwear out of their windows.
Heald fast forwards to 2020 and remembers how she first learned about COVID-19. She describes running an event for AHA! – Arts, History, and Architecture – in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in early March 2020. She mentions people asking if she would cancel the program, and deciding to host it anyway. She explains that the next day the Mayor of New Bedford prohibited any events that would attract more than 10 people. She recalls considering how her work would have to adapt and embracing the ways technology allows people from across the globe to share in the same program. Heald also talks about preparing her family for lockdown by upgrading her technology and stocking up on food that she could easily preserve and prepare if she got sick. Additionally, she speaks about the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police. She acknowledges the ways the pandemic has highlighted racial and socioeconomic inequalities, but says she is glad to see diverse crowds protesting injustices.
Heald closes by imploring listeners to “Go out and vote, be active, be vocal, be visible. And if you’re not somebody who likes to go out and vote and be vocal, visible, and all those things, be a mentor, contribute, be a friend, be an ally, you have that power.”