North Carolina Newspapers

One-On-One With
Students demonstrate their support of a BCC
Tim Smith speaks to the crowd of onlookers
The following is an exclusive
interview with filmmaker Spike Lee
by Black Ink co-editor Chandra
McLean. Lee provided the one-on-
one interview prior to his press con
ference and appearance at the
Dean E. Smith Center on Sept. 18.
BLACKINK: Whatdoyoubelieve
you will accomplish by speaking
here tonight?
LEE: Well, I think it is really on the
students. I’m just here to support it
and let them know that they’re not
in this alone. But it’s the students
who had the initiative to start this,
so it’s on them.
INK: What motivated you to call
the BCC and inquire about the dem
onstrations that have been going
LEE: I was reading my paper and
I saw this article in the New York
Times about the incident here, but
what really got me was that black
athletes, football players, were lead
ing this, and that’s unheard of. You
know the mentality of most ath
letes, and I said these must be some
serious brothers to jeopardize their
football career. But they’re making
a stand and they have backbone. I
think that’s what we need today.
Too many of us have this jellyfish
spine, and when it’s time to make a
stand, we just think about how it’s
going to affect our checkbook.
These brothers are committed, and
once 1 read that 1 just called infw-
mation down here and said, ‘Give
me the Black Student Union’ [he
laughs] and Amie picked up the
phone. I said, ‘Yo, 1 want to come
down there, and we had several
calls that day; and we finally just
solidified that the rally would be
INK: Why do you feel that UNC
needs a free-standing BCC?
LEE: I consider myself lucky be
cause I went to a predominantly
black school- Morehouse Q)llege-
and the last four or five years I’ve
done lectures, most of them being at
predominantly white colleges.
Black students are catching hell
there, and any kind of building or
organization they can find refuge in
is needed. I don ’ t know what the big
deal is. Black folk, we built this
country. They should be lucky that’s
all the students are asking for. It
really just comes down to empow
erment I think Tim said.
This was his quote in the
Times piece: ‘They don’t
want to do anything that
would give black folks em
powerment.’ They know
that thing is bullshit about
a black student union is
going to foster separat
ism... that’s bullshit be
cause if the students are
successful it’s going to give
them a sense of power, and
there’s no telling what
they’re going to do. They
could turn things really up
side down. TTiey could
revolutionize education at
white institutions across
America. What’s impor
tant here is that the athletes
are at the vanguard of this.
The reason why that is im-
portant is that college sports is pow
ered by the muscle, brawn, speed,
and intelligence of the black ath
letes. If these schools didn’t attract
black athletes through football and
basketball, there could be no multi
million dollar T.V. contracts. So,
the only way that you can deal with
people of power is really economi
cally, and we talk about doing some
thing that is going to have an effect
on their pocket book, then they are
going to have to wake up and no
tice. I mean you may protest and all
of that stuff, but when athletes across
America, black student college ath
letes say, ‘If we don’t get such and
such and such, we’re not going to
play’...uh oh! They got to do some
thing! Dean Smith with no brothers
on his team? Shoot! There ain’t that
many Larry Birds and Christian
Laetners to go around, you know?
In a lot of ways, integration has
done a great disservice to us as far
as black businesses. There was a
time when Bear Bryant Alabama
wouldn’t play no black folk, so the
black athlete had to go to predomi
nately black schools. Not just black
students, but I think students in gen
eral are just being pimped. So much
money is made off of students to
day. The money they get from schol
arships is miniscule compared to
Lee awaits questioning
the amount of money that is gener
ated through the box office and
paraphenalia. When Patrick Ewing
was at Georgetown, every black kid
in America had a Georgetown T-
shirt or sweatshirt or hat. You think
Patrick Ewing saw any of that, or
John Thompson? No. That money
went directly back into Georgetown
So, college athletes, this is big busi
ness, and I think that the black ath
letes need to realize that they have
power. All of this money is being
generated off of their talent and
their skills, and they really shouldn ’ t
think that they ’re powerless because
they are not at all.
INK: How do you feel about pre
dominately white institutions?
LEE: I think people have to go
where they can go to get an educa
tion. A lot of black students would
love to go to a predominately black

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