Interview with Adrienne Manns-Israel
QUESTION 12
JUDY RICHARDSON:

OK, if you can talk about Charter Day and be as descriptive as you can as if we had no footage and you're just describing it.

ADRIENNE MANNS-ISRAEL:

Well right before Charter Day, Tony and I had gone up to see Dr. Nabrit and ask him to respond to the sixteen demands that we had drawn up, a coalition of students had drawn up sixteen demands. And we asked him to respond to it by Charter Day. Said, either at Charter Day exercises or before. So we left his office. I wasn't very optimistic because he talked all the time about Amsterdam, his latest trip. So I wasn't very optimistic that he would do it. But anyway, we had met the night before, UJAMAA which was a, a coalition of protest organizations, non-official groups. We had met, oh, about two days before Charter Day and decided that if Dr. Nabrit did not respond to those sixteen demands, during Charter Day exercises that we were going to disrupt the exercises and, so we went there with that in mind. There were about fifteen of us who said we would go up on the stage and ask him to respond to our demands and the rest would hand out leaflets to the audience to tell them why we were doing this and what this was about. So we got there, well we each sat in different places in the auditorium. I think I sat with Tony. And the guards were there, security guards were there and they had just killed somebody, ah, not too long ago who was robbing the Punch Out, which was a student hangout, canteen. And one of the security men had, had shot the man. So all I could see was this guard. I remember this big, tall security guard. He was over six feet and he had a gun. And they, they were all, all over the auditorium, looked like. There might have been five or six of them but, anyway, when, ah, Dr. Nabrit had finished the preliminaries and got into the program and Dean Gandy got up to give the address. And he gave the address. Didn't say one thing about our demands. He sat down and then Dr. Nabrit got up to give the Distinguished Alumni their awards. So I said, "Tony, I don't think he's going to say anything and the program is going to be over so we better do something." And he said, "Well, OK, let's get up." So I said, "All right." So I got up. I was, you know, we walked toward the stage and all of the security guards came to the front and stood in front of us and we were standing there and, well, I said, I, I said, "Tony, what are we going to do now?" You know, he said "Well, let's sit up on the stage." So we sat on the stage. And finally I said, "I can't get up." I said, "I just, I'm, I'm just afraid. I, I can't get up." So he said, "I'll get up." So when Tony got up and I said, "Oh, I can't leave Tony stand there by himself." I think Q.T. Jackson got up and some more, and so the rest of us got up there. And we stood on the stage and Nabrit turned and Tony went over to him and he said, something about, "Dr. Nabrit we've asked you to respond to our demands and since you obviously are not going to respond, we feel you should relinquish the, um, the ceremonies and let us explain." So, it was a tense moment and I remember Nabrit said, "Why are you doing this to me?" or something like that. He looked at Tony and me like, as if we had betrayed him. And then he walked off the stage and we tried to hold our counter Charter Day exercises and explain to the alumni. And the faculty jumped up, you know, they were all in their robes. They fled the auditorium. Only about three of them stayed. I think one of the alumni stayed and, ah, we tried to, they turned the systems off. We tried to talk. We had like a rally, Q.T. Jackson, but I was, I was afraid really. I really was for the first time I think, ah, through the whole thing I was afraid.

JUDY RICHARDSON:

OK, cut just a second.