Interview with Toni Johnson-Chavis

Let's follow up on that and tell me about, in general, the reception that you found in Stanford, I'm thinking about all the sequence of events that led up to your being housed in a trailer.


The receptions in terms of Black students were very positive. They were very few. There were less than 30 total in a class of about 1500. There were 13 Black women specifically and Stanford is a very large campus with several dorms. And they had spread us all around the campus with groups of two, two women in each dorm. Ah, so that it was really very difficult for us to be cohesive and coalesce because we were so spread out. But, quickly, despite that, we still formed close friendships and there were probably 7 or 8 of us who did. Even though Stanford, that was 1969 in California, theoretically a State, ah, that was non-southern, and you don't think that you're going to get Mississippi racism, but in fact it was very, very racist. There were a lot of anti-Semitic groups on campus, anti-Black groups that were on campus. Ah, my dorm, it was not uncommon for swastikas to be painted on my door. That happened two or three times. A cross was bor- burned outside of my dorm room. By the third quarter, my roommate and I, Patricia Gay and I were moved to a trailer that usually only upper classmen could go into. And there was Linda Russell, Rita Bernstein, they were in another dorm and myself and my roommate and the four of us were placed in a trailer, primarily for safety, so that we would be out of the dorm situation because of what was going on. There was not very much publicity about that. Stanford in 1969, those things were not supposed to be occurring. So that, you know, those were not the kind of things that the media picked up and those were the kind of things that were quickly squashed. So we pretty much coalesced and stayed somewhat distant from the main flow of what was going on. The BSU, the Black Student Union, was very active in those days. There was a lot of Black pride issues that you don't see that it's pretty, that's going on now. And so there was a lot of cohesion with the Black students. So, therefore, it was not a bad experience. It was not really a very lonely experience. It was a very active, ah, experience in my life in terms of what was going on.