Associated Files
Title
WBUR Oral History Project: Chandra Banks
Title
WBUR Oral History Project: Chandra Banks. Clip 2
Contributor
Banks, Chandra (Interviewee)
Guberman, Jayne (Interviewer)
Girdharry, Kristi (Recordist)
McDonough, Ryan (Contributor)
Language
English
Date created
February 12, 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. Chandra Banks, conflict mediator for the Cambridge Public schools, is a fifth generation Cantebrigian. Describing herself as a descendant of slaves, Chandra graduated high school from Cambridge Rindge & Latin, although she had attended Buckingham, Brown, and Nichols, a private school, for much of her education. The only black child in her class there, she had been recruited during a period of aggressive minority enrollment in the 1970s. Describing her "unorthodox" career path, Chandra began with her attendance at Spellman College, an all black women's college in the South. Over the following years, she worked in a variety of capacities with at-risk adolescents, also earning a Harvard degree in risk prevention and counseling, and attending the Institute for Peaceable Schools at Lesley University. Her goal today, as conflict mediator for the Cambridge schools, is to spread the concept of non-violent conflict resolution throughout the city. Chandra explains the co-mediation model she uses with adults, as well her peer mediation program, where trained students mediate conflicts for their peers, as well as the MBTA police. Chandra describes her regular attendance as a spectator at the Boston Marathon finish line. In 2013, however, she did not attend and learned about the explosions from her teenage daughter. Over the following days, especially once the Tsarnaevs were identified as suspects, she was intensely aware of the range of reactions - including fear, guilt, and a sense of responsibility -- within the Cambridge community. Chandra describes the responses to the bombings within the Rindge & Latin community. She notes in particular the salutary impact of "talking circles," a restorative justice concept, in facilitating dialogue within the school community. She also credits the school principal for fostering a sense of openness and inclusivity among students from different backgrounds and socio-economic levels. At the same time, following the bombings, Chandra found herself dealing largely with students talking about everyday teenage problems, which she understood as a sign of adolescent resilience. Reflecting on these events, Chandra speculated that the younger Tsarnaev brother's involvement resulted from a mental health breakdown, perhaps caused by family problems and influences. She believes that school staff would have recognized signs of a troubled mind, if Tsarnaev had exhibited them while a student at the school. Noting that she does not believe in the death penalty, Chandra discussed her feelings about appropriate punishment for Tsarnaev, as well as her lack of faith in the American justice system. Recalling discussions in the aftermath of the bombings about the general level of violence in Boston, she noted her friends and colleagues' concerns about the lack of acknowledgment of black murder victims, as well as feelings of abandonment in places such as Dorchester when police were drawn into the hunt for the suspects. "When I think of Boston Strong,"she said, "I start to think of Boston residents who don't feel safe in their homes or on the streets." She concludes that, overall, the events surrounding the bombings reinforce her basic beliefs in the importance of community development and the power of empathic listening. In this clip, Chandra explains how responses to Muslim community members has changed since Muslim staff have stepped up to become more visible.
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
The WBUR Oral History Project. Chandra Banks (Oral History), Jayne Guberman (Oral Historian), Kristi Girdharry (Recorder), Ryan McDonough (Sound Processing and Editing)
Related item
Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive
Subjects and keywords
Boston Marathon Bombing, Boston, Mass., 2013
Permanent URL
Use and reproduction
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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