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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Brooks, October 2, 1974. Interview E-0058. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Role of the Black Student Movement in the food workers' strike

Brooks talks about the role of Preston Dobbins and the Black Student Movement at UNC in helping the food workers organize their strike. According to Brooks, Dobbins served as a mentor of sorts for the food workers and helped them to understand some of the discrimination they had faced. Because of his activism in the Black Student Movement, Dobbins gave the food workers pointers for organization and courage to follow through with their demands.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Brooks, October 2, 1974. Interview E-0058. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BEVERLY JONES:
So would you say it was the Black Student Movement itself or was it Preston Dobbins himself that was helping you before the strike took place?
MS. ELIZABETH BROOKS:
Well, in a way, I guess you can say it was the Black Student Movement. But we confided in Preston. We kind of seeked him out from the others and he would carry our problems and actually information from him, and of course, I think he and the others. . . Well, from time to time the others would come in and give us information, and we appreciated it. But I don't know why we just kind of looked like, you know, we would seek out Preston.
BEVERLY JONES:
What did Preston have going for himself?
MS. ELIZABETH BROOKS:
Preston was very much known on that campus at that time and he just seemed to be just a person that was looking out for things like this that was happening and he could talk to you and really make you aware of some of the things that you really had been overlooking. And he really gave us a lot of courage.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was Preston ever involved in any meetings that you had with Mr. Prillaman. Did he ever go with you when you met Mr. Prillaman?
MS. ELIZABETH BROOKS:
He did not go with us to any of the meetings until after we went on strike.
BEVERLY JONES:
Who decided to take a list of grievances? Was a list given to Mr. Prillaman before the strike or during the strike?
MS. ELIZABETH BROOKS:
Preston told us to sit down and make a list of the things that we wanted, to put it on paper and one person present it to him. So we. . . that's what we done. This, of course was done; we did present a paper with a list of grievances on it and of course as I've said before he made some promisses that he never kept, and I think the list that we presented with him was the last meeting. We done this at the last meeting before the strike.