Oral history interview with Bobbie Brown Knable, 1999


Knable, Bobbie Brown (Interviewee)
Michaels, Sheila, 1939-2017 (Interviewer)
Oral history interview with Bobbie Brown Knable, 1999
Other Titles
Reminiscences of Bobbie Brown Knable, 1999; Oral history of Bobbie Brown Knable, 1999
The interview begins with Bobbie Brown Knable's recollections from childhood. Knable describes her close relationship with her great-aunt, her great-aunt's job at a millionaires club, and her commitment to providing Knable with opportunities. Knable recalls her experience of class difference growing up in a working-class Black neighborhood. Knable discusses her junior high school and high school ex periences, and recalls an instance of discrimination on a 1945 train ride to Knoxville, Tennessee. Knable attended Oberlin College and began working at Karamu House, a historically Black theatre. There, she met Karen Berg and decided to move to New York City. Knable recalls the work of Karamu House, her early days in New York City, and the political atmosphere of the time. She compares race relations in Cleveland with New York City, and recalls the sense of freedom that came with her move. Knable explains the activities of the Westside Democrats and her work in the Civil Rights Committee. Knable also describes the act of cutting her hair, how she met her husband, and beginning employment with CORE in November of 1963. She speaks about the CORE community, Southern civil rights volunteers, and her interracial marriage. Knable describes a feminist consciousness-raising group she began in 1969 before returning to the topic of her summers in Knoxville. Finally, Knable speaks about CORE leadership and the move towards Black power, Malcolm X, African American historical representation, and her employment at Tufts University
Collection Name
Sheila Michaels civil rights organization oral history collection
Civil rights movements--History--20th century.--United States; Civil rights workers--History--20th century.--United States; Second-wave feminism; United States Race relations 20th century; Knable, Bobbie Brown; Congress of Racial Equality. New York (Harlem) Chapter; Karamu House
oral histories
Physical Description
84 pages
Note (Biographical)
Bobbie Brown Knable was born in 1936 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Knable was raised by her great-grandmother and, at age five, began living with her great-aunt in Cleveland, Ohio. There, she was exposed to arts and education, despite financial challenges. Knable attended Patrick Henry Junior High and Glenville High School before graduating from Oberlin College in 1958. She gained an awareness of Southern race relations through annual trips to her family in Knoxville. While working at Karamu House, the oldest African-American theater in the United States, Knable met Karen Berg. The two moved to New York City. Knable became active in the Westside Democrats Civil Rights Committee, where she met her husband, Norman. Knable worked in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) New York office from November 1963 until late 1965, when she moved with her family to Brookline, Massachusetts. She began a consciousness-raising feminist group in 1969 and served as the Dean of Students at Tufts University from 1980-1999
Interviewed by Sheila Michaels on November 23, 1999
Note (Provenance)
Sheila Michaels, Gift circa 1999-2005
Library Location
Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University
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Catalog Record
Also In
Oral History Archives at Columbia
Time-Based Media
Time-Based Media
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