Katani A. Eaton, class of 1985


In this interview captured during the 2018 Black Alumni Reunion, Katani A. Eaton, class of 1985, defines her time at Brown University by highlighting her Christian community and her involvement in a 1985 student protest advocating for needs-blind admission.

Eaton begins by describing her early childhood education as a member of Massachusetts’ METCO program – a voluntary program intended to expand educational opportunities, increase diversity, and reduce racial isolation, by enabling students in certain cities to attend public schools in other communities that have agreed to participate. She goes on to explain that against her guidance counselor’s advice, she applied to Brown and was accepted. Eaton recalls being enthralled by the extracurricular activities available at Brown including the Third World Transition Program, basketball, theatre, and singing. She also briefly mentions some of the memorable courses she took in her first year.

Eaton details her journey as a new Christian on campus who is also a musician, as well as the stigmas that came along with those titles. She chronicles her decision to marry her husband less than a week after graduation and the pressure she felt to do powerful things with her Brown degree. She concludes her interview by clarifying her involvement in the 1985 student protest, explaining that she has not been recognized as a member of the protest which she was so passionate about because she was called out of the John Carter Brown Library to sing to the crowd. Throughout her interview, Eaton highlights race relations, particularly from her mother’s viewpoint, her education in Lexington, MA, and her time during and after Brown.

Part 1

Part 2


Recorded on September 21, 2018 in Pembroke Hall, Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Mary Murphy, Nancy L. Buc ’65 LLD‘94 hon Pembroke Center Archivist

Suggested Chicago style citation: Eaton, Katani A. Interview. By Mary Murphy. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. September 21, 2018.


Katani A. Eaton grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts. She attended Lexington Public Schools and entered Brown University in 1981. She graduated from Brown in 1985 with her AB in Psychology and several years later earned her teacher certification as a language and literacy specialist from Harvard University. She now works in Newton, Massachusetts, as a METCO counselor/Engagement Specialist and Co-Director of the Legacy Scholars Program while also serving as a band lander and performing musician.

Sumner is also deeply connected to her faith as well as to singing and the vocal arts. As an adult, Eaton began to sign in a semi-professional role after her colleagues heard her perform Karaoke at a work event. Eaton has since released her own songs and once sang as a backup singer for Chaka Khan. She is perhaps best known as the “Inspirational MC” at the Original House of Blues’-Sunday Gospel Brunch where she was a featured performer as well as the MC for ten years. Eaton fronts her own band as well as serves as the lead female vocalist for Manhattan Touch band. She also sang the National Anthem at a Boston Celtic’s game and has been a featured vocalist at Symphony Hall for Gospel Night at the Pops.