Karen E. McLaurin, class of 1973 (interview 1 of 2)


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. She goes on to explain feeling excluded from the women’s movement as an African-American, and feeling that her energies should be directed towards black rights as a whole. McLaurin talks about her involvement with various student organizations and summer activities.

McLaurin begins Part 2 discussing racism at Brown, and in society at large. She concludes the interview with a discussion of the community she participated in at Brown, about her role as a Dean, and experience as a black woman in administration at Brown.

Please note that this interview has poor audio quality. Refer to the transcript.

See also: Karen E. McLaurin, class of 1973 (interview 2 of 2)

Part 1

Part 2


Recorded on October 4, 1994 in the Third World Center, Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Derria Byrd

Suggested Chicago style citation: McLaurin, Karen E. Interview. By Derria Byrd. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. October 4, 1994.


Karen E. McLaurin was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, moved to Rockland, Massachusetts, and attended the public school system until the eighth grade when she entered Notre Dame Academy. As a young woman, McLaurin embraced volunteerism, participating in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Congress of Racial Equality CORE,, and the Black Panther Party of Boston. She is a member of the last class to enter Pembroke College, the women’s college in Brown University, entering in 1970 and graduating three years later in 1973 with her AB in sociology. Though she had other places of employment, McLaurin worked at Brown for many years including in the positions of Associate Director of Alumni Relations, Associate Dean of the College, and as the first Director of the Third World Center, a position she held for nearly twenty years. Most recently, she and her husband operate a public access program called “Africa Teach-In” as well as a periodical titled Chesson Worldwide.