Interviews by Topic: Racism

Speaking 61 years after graduating from Pembroke College, Mary Jane Mikuriya, class of 1956, shares an exceptionally rich account of her experience as an American student and woman of Japanese and Czechoslovakian descent in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

25th Reunion, class of 1985

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1985 summarizes the economically, socially, and racially diverse undergraduate experiences of Frances S. Lee, Suzanne Beth Goldberg, Margaret E. Rosen, Karen Smith, Allyson Tucker, Katherine Sabin Melchoir, and Jill Anne Hereford, at their 25th reunion.

First, the interviewees are asked why they chose to attend Brown and what their thoughts and experiences were concerning the “new curriculum” that abolished course requirements and allowed for a more open exploration of subjects.

25th Reunion, class of 1992

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1992, captures the diverse undergraduate experiences of Aelish Marie Joyce, Rhonda Cherie Boyd, Resa Ellen Lewiss, Cristina Marie Lopez, Deborah Jane Pearlman, Samantha Lauren Fine Schreiber, Linda Jill Siegel, Jessika Sorrosa, and Karen Young, at their 25th reunion.

25th Reunion, class of 1993

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1993 documents the undergraduate experiences of Kenya F.

50th Reunion, class of 1959

This interview with the Pembroke College class of 1959 documents the undergraduate experiences of Katherine Robinson Hampstead, Caryl-Ann Miller, Jacqueline Jones, Diane Eileen Scola, Elizabeth Davidson Taft, Nina Wiita Krooss, and Laura T. Fishman, at their 50th reunion.

Afua Hassan, class of 1981 and Wanda Moore, class of 1982

In this interview recorded during the 2018 Black Alumni Reunion, Afua Hassan and Wanda Moore discuss their time at Brown University, the effect their education had on their careers, and the importance of their friendship, which strengthened when Moore became pregnant in her junior year. The two explain that their friendship and Hassan’s desire to document her work as a midwife of color and midwifery in communities of color drove them to donate this interview.

Amanda Strauss, staff

In this interview, Amanda Strauss, Associate University Librarian for Special Collections at Brown University, describes her experiences as the first woman Director of the John Hay Library and as a mother during the COVID-19 global pandemic. She also discusses the national civil unrest that occurred in the summer of 2020 due to racial injustice and the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Black Alumnae at their 50th Reunion, class of 1968

This interview with Black alumnae of the Pembroke College class of 1968 documents the undergraduate experiences of Marcia D. Lloyd, Bernicestine McLeod, Sandra L. Richards, and Sharon P. Wilkinson, at their 50th reunion.

Elizabeth Branch Jackson, class of 1945

In Part 1 of this interview, Elizabeth Branch Jackson begins by talking about her high-achieving family. Educated at Howard Dental School, her father was one of only two Black dentists in Providence at that time. He was also active in the NAACP and a variety of community programs, pushing the same expectations he had for himself onto his daughter. Jackson discusses the inevitability of pursuing a Ph.D., her lack of choice in choosing Pembroke, and being a highly visible token among her classmates.

Gail Y. Mitchell, class of 1973

Gail Y. Mitchell begins Part 1 of this interview by discussing her sheltered upbringing in a very religious household, her desire to attend a school where she could feel more independent, and her decision to attend Brown University. Mitchell talks about working as a student assistant over the summer, and about living at Pembroke and in the dormitories there. 

Javette D. Pinkney, class of 1980

In this interview, Javette D. Pinkney begins by explaining the academic initiative and activist spirit that brought her to Brown. She fondly remembers a “feeling of community,” and campus dating, in spite of instances of racism. She describes her involvement in a number of campus activities and social groups and recalls spearheading the College Venture Program - a pilot program financed by the Braitmayer Foundation to help students who needed or wanted to drop out of college temporarily.

Joyce Loretta Richardson, class of 1963

Joyce Loretta Richardson begins her interview by discussing the experiences and people that led her to apply to and attend Pembroke College. She cites experiences such as going to boarding school, having a high achieving family, rejection from Radcliffe, and her fear of swimming. She contrasts her experience at boarding school with her arrival to Pembroke, discussing the stereotypical “Penny Pembrokers,” encountering racism for the first time, and being shocked into silence. She explains the extent to which gender and racial issues were not identified and the suppression she felt.

Justine Tyrrell, class of 1943

In Part 1, speaking fifty five years after her graduation, Justine Tyrrell begins her interview by noting that she is one of seventeen family members to graduate from Brown University. She states that she always knew she would attend Pembroke College and recalls asking Dean Margaret Shove Morriss for a scholarship. She briefly discusses the difficult transition from Pawtucket High School to Pembroke and mentions that her first job after graduation was at Army Security Agency as a crypt analyst.

Karen E. McLaurin, class of 1973 - First Interview

In her first interview conducted in 1994, Karen E. McLaurin begins by discussing her decision to attend Brown University, and her determination to succeed. She talks about a summer program she attended that was specifically for students who were deemed less likely to succeed at Brown. McLaurin also recalls minority students at Brown, their importance to the community and the college, as well as her experiences as an African-American woman at Brown. She discusses the various faculty members who she knew as a student and shares some of the difficulties she had with them.

Kathy Le, class of 1997

In this interview, Kathy Le, Brown University class of 1997, shares stories about her family’s emigration from Vietnam to the United States, and also details memories of her time at Brown.

Lois Black, class of 1953

In Part 1 of this interview, Lois Black begins by explaining what it felt like to attend Pembroke College with a working class background. She describes her first experiences of Pembroke, including living in East House, and the differences between private and public high school students. Black goes on to discuss racism at Pembroke, the exclusion of women from the Brown Marching Band and Brown Sailing Association, and her participation in student movements for desegregation and reformation of gracious living regulations.

Lynn Nottage, class of 1986, and Ruby Aiyo Gerber, class of 2020

In this interview, Lynn Nottage, Pulitzer-prize winning playwright and Brown University class of 1986, and her daughter, Ruby Aiyo Gerber, Brown University class of 2020, discuss their experiences at Brown, living through the COVID-19 global pandemic, and processing the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Mary Jane Mikuriya, class of 1956

Speaking 61 years after graduating from Pembroke College, Mary Jane Mikuriya, class of 1956, shares an exceptionally rich account of her experience as an American student and woman of Japanese and Austro-Hungarian descent in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

Mitchell Foster, staff

In this interview, Mitchell Foster, a Residential Area Coordinator at Brown University, shares their experiences becoming a Brown staff member during the COVID-19 global pandemic and guiding students through increased racism against the Asian and Asian-American communities.

Rita Ann Chao, class of 1969

In this interview, Rita Ann Chao, class of 1969, discusses growing up in Vietnam, arriving in Maine, studying applied math at Brown University, and her career in software development, management consulting, and organization transformation.