In her second interview recorded during the 2018 Black Alumni Reunion, Karen E. McLaurin, class of 1973, briefly recounts highlights of her time at Brown University. To begin, McLaurin mentions growing up in Roxbury and then Rockland, Massachusetts, attending public school through the seventh grade, and attending Notre Dame Academy. She notes her volunteerism with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Congress of Racial Equality CORE, and the Black Panther Party of Boston.
McLaurin explains that she applied to Pembroke College, the women’s college within Brown, and was a member of the school for one year until the merger in 1971. She elaborates that her first experience at Brown was during a Spring Weekend, a time when she had fun and recognized the campus as a safe space. She goes on to remember participating in the Transitional Summer Program necessary because of her average grades and describes how she later decided to concentrate in sociology. McLaurin also cites William Brown and Nanette Jones as role models for her desire to one day become a dean at Brown. Additionally, she spotlights a proposal she created during her time at Brown for the Adult Correctional Institution in Rhode Island that would create a pathway for Black male inmates to earn their GEDs.
In closing her interview, McLaurin says that she and her husband now run a public access program called “Africa Teach-In” as well as a periodical titled Chesson Worldwide. This follows a five-year employment with Brown’s Alumni Relations Office and a nearly twenty-year career as Brown’s first Director of the Third World Center (also the first woman to hold that position). She attributes much of her time at Brown to Bernicestine McLeod Bailey, a fellow Black alumna who has also donated interviews to the Pembroke Center oral History Project.
Please note that McLaurin’s first interview conducted in 1994 has poor audio quality. Refer to the transcript.