Associated Files
Title
WBUR Oral History Project: Gail Council
Title
WBUR Oral History Project: Gail Council. Clip 3
Contributor
Council, Gail (Interviewee)
Guberman, Jayne (Interviewer)
Girdharry, Kristi (Recordist)
McDonough, Ryan (Contributor)
Language
English
Date created
January 17, 2014
Type of resource
Sound recording
Genre
Interviews
Oral histories (document genres)
Format
Sound Recording
Digital origin
born digital
Abstract/Description
Countless lives were affected by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and their aftermath. The WBUR Oral History Project collects stories from individuals whose lives were immediately and irrevocably changed by these events. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of WBUR, our team of oral historians, and the participation of these interview subjects, Our Marathon has tried to ensure that these stories are not forgotten. We believe that these stories matter, and that they demonstrate the ways historical events transform the lives of the people who lived through them. Oral historians Jayne K. Guberman, Ph.D., and Joanna Shea O'Brien conducted the interviews for this project. Oral History Project Manager Kristi Girdharry, Our Marathon Project Co-Director Jim McGrath, and Community Outreach Lead Joanne DeCaro recorded the interviews and provided research assistance and post-interview processing. McGrath and Our Marathon Audio Technician Ryan McDonough provided sound editing and processing for all of the interviews and clips. The opinions and statements expressed in interviews and related content featured in the WBUR Oral History Project do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Our Marathon, WBUR, Northeastern University, or any employees or volunteers affiliated with these institutions and projects. Our Marathon and The WBUR Oral History project make no assertions about the veracity of statements made by participants in this project. Gail Council has lived in Cambridge for the past forty years, where she brought up four daughters and worked with children and families in a variety of capacities. Today, at the Guidance Center's "Children with Voices" program, she is as a family advocate for families dealing with domestic abuse. Gail describes growing up in a "world of prejudice" in Woburn, Massachusetts, where the community was divided along racial and ethnic lines, and she was often the token minority. Moving to Cambridge as an adult, she found much more diversity, but also hidden and subtle prejudices. Her own children, now in their twenties and thirties, were exposed to a more diverse and open community growing up in Cambridge. At home when the bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, Gail's first thought was for her family's safety. She recalls a conversation several days later with her daughter, who knew Jahar Tsarnaev from high school and felt upset when positive memories of him were met with negative comments on social media sites. At the same time, people were confused about the Tsarnaevs. Many, she said, felt: "This isn't the person I knew." Turning to Rindge & Latin high school, Gail expressed pride in the school's efforts to keep students safe and create opportunities for communal sharing. As part of the Trauma Response Team that met with faculty and staff that Sunday, she was amazed at their sophisticated understanding of what was needed, from bringing in water and Kleenex to planning for dealing with the press. She recalls teachers grappling with their own mixed emotions. Some, immigrants themselves, remembered having lived through terrorism in their countries of origin. Others shared personal experiences of anti-Muslim incidents and fears of a backlash. While the school was helping students and staff, Gail recalls the Cambridge Community Support gathering on May 16th as an occasion when parents especially could learn how to help their children through this experience and recognize signs of trauma. Throughout the interview, Gail describes hearing the same, positive descriptions of Jahar Tsarnaev repeatedly from students, teachers, and parents. All of them struggled to reconcile their personal experiences of the younger Tsarnaev with the image painted by the media. Many were frightened at the negative and threatening responses they received through social media, and consequently would only communicate with those they most trusted. Noting that people can be cruel and judgmental, she says that she does not know what happened to the Tsarnaevs that would cause them to engage in terrorist acts. Although she hopes that the upcoming trial will be fair, she harbors doubts about whether that can happen, especially for a member of a minority. From her perspective as a domestic violence worker, she notes that lots of things contribute to violence happening, and much would have to change in the world to prevent people from acting out, sometimes drastically, from a place of despair. For her, "Boston Strong" is just two words until people are willing to take a stand to effect change. At the same time, she celebrates the community she witnessed at Rindge & Latin in the aftermath of the bombings. "You hear, 'we're a community,' a lot," she says, "but this time I really saw it." In this clip, Gail discusses her decision, based on her identity as a minority, not to leave her house during the shelter in place.
Notes
The opinions and statements expressed in interviews and related content featured in the WBUR Oral History Project do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Our Marathon, WBUR, Northeastern University, or any employees or volunteers affiliated with these institutions and projects. Our Marathon and The WBUR Oral History project make no assertions about the veracity of statements made by participants in this project.
Source note
Gail Council (Oral History), Jayne Guberman (Oral Historian), Kristi Girdharry (Recorder), Ryan McDonough (Sound Editing and Processing)
Related item
Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive
Subjects and keywords
Boston Marathon Bombing, Boston, Mass., 2013
Permanent URL
Use and reproduction
No media use without specific approval. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Requests for permission to publish quotations should be addressed to Our Marathon (marathon@neu.edu) and should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. Commercial use of content is prohibited. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

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