Toni-Michelle C. Travis, '69
Download Bard Student Activism during Civil Rights Movement (1.6 MB)
Download Drug Culture at Bard in the 60s (1.2 MB)
Download Bard's Reaction to MLK Assassination (1.2 MB)
Download Toni-Michelle's Interest in Political Science (750 KB)
Download Racial Consciousness at Bard (1.7 MB)
Download Building Black Community on Campus (1.1 MB)
Download Full Transcript (150 KB)
Division of Social Studies; Political Studies
This interview was recorded as part of Myra Armstead’s 2017 course, Hist 117: Inclusion at Bard, which produced a series of oral histories with alumni/ae of color.
Raised on and around Howard University’s campus in D.C., Toni-Michelle C. Travis came to Bard to pursue a degree in political science. She first discovered the school through the popular radio and television game show College Bowl. While at Bard, Toni-Michelle rejoiced in the freedoms of college life: “No one said you had to go to chapel.” She references inside jokes she shared with her peers; for instance, the saying that Bard was “1.5 acres per person” while she attended. Reminiscing about her favorite bar, Adolph’s, she asserts “it changed the entire college when it ceased to exist… It was a unique place, a unique atmosphere for discussions, for looking at the world, all of those things.” She describes the influence of drug culture on students during this time and the looming War on Drugs waged by President Nixon. Toni-Michelle tells the tale of Bard’s 1968 drug bust, contending that G. Gordon Liddy and Sheriff Lawrence Quinlan of Dutchess County “were looking for a private school [to bust]. And Vassar was all women. And Marist was Catholic. And so then they kept looking, and then it [the target] became Bard.”
Though she yearned for a larger political science department and resented the preferential treatment given to her male peers, Toni-Michelle retains an appreciation for her education at Bard. She fondly remembers Professor Heinz Bertelsmann as a mentor. She grew up discussing politics at the dinner table and was moved by the injustices she witnessed around her: the lack of political rights granted to Black Americans gave her the idea to “figure out how government works.” During her years at Bard, Toni-Michelle did not navigate her racial identity alone–she developed a racial consciousness informed by the times: her boyfriend would say ‘We’re now Black. We’re now Black people.’ And my grandmother would talk about being Colored, and my mother about being Negro, and then I started using the term Black.” Toni-Michelle did not personally witness the rising tide of civil rights activism pulling Bard students into its wake; rather, she felt as if “Bard was so removed on the Civil Rights issue. Nobody said much about it, thought much about it. The big issue was ‘Are you going to D.C. to demonstrate against Vietnam?’” Though, given that the only television on campus was located in a men’s dormitory, Albee, Bard was ‘in a real bubble’. Toni-Michelle speaks on Bard’s reactions to numerous political issues of the 60s, including MLK’s assassination, desegregation, busing, and the Bard Racial Action Committee (BRAC). She went on to study at the University of Chicago, obtaining her PhD on a Ford Foundation Fellowship Grant. Dr. Travis is professor emerita of policy and government at George Mason University.
Toni-Michelle Chapman Travis '69, Myra Armstead, College Bowl, Howard University, Charles "Charlie" Hollander '65, University of Chicago, Washington, D.C., Carla Sayers Tabourne '69, Luxembourg, Pierre Joris '69, Frances David '70, Bard Racial Action Committee (BRAC), Rhode Island, Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, Adolph's, Tewksbury, South Hall, G. Gordon Liddy, Sheriff Lawrence Quinlan "The Mighty Quinn", Dutchess County, New York, Watergate Scandal, Millbrook (NY), Vassar College, Marist College, William 'Wes' Moore '70, Albee, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Professor Heinz Bertelsmann, Professor Robert Koblitz, India, University of Wisconsin, University of California Berkeley, United States Congress, Unites State Board of Trade, John Hope Franklin, Louise Kline, Syracuse University, Howard Law School, Schuyler House, Father Shafer [Frederick “Fritz” Shafer], Professor Richard Wiles, Professor Frederick A. Crane, Sottery Hall, Professor Ted Sottery, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Denise Shaw '71, Constance "Connie" Hope '68, Ford Foundation, Hampden Sydney College, Hampton University, National Geographic Society, Antioch College, Ohio, Brothers at Bard, Dianne Pinderhughes, Robert “Bobby” Kennedy, "Boiler Room Girls"
Travis, Toni-Michelle C., "Toni-Michelle C. Travis, '69" (2022). BardCorps -- All Oral Histories. 81.
Bard Student Activism during Civil Rights Movement
Travis_Toni_Michelle part_2.mp3 (1260 kB)
Drug Culture at Bard in the 60s
Travis_Toni_Michelle part_3.mp3 (1191 kB)
Bard's Reaction to MLK Assassination
Travis_Toni_Michelle part_4.mp3 (750 kB)
Toni-Michelle's Interest in Political Science
Travis_Toni_Michelle part_5.mp3 (1765 kB)
Racial Consciousness at Bard
Travis_Toni_Michelle part_6.mp3 (1120 kB)
Building Black Community on Campus
Toni Michelle Travis Transcript.pdf (150 kB)
“In the years when I was growing up, we had no vote for anyone in the District. No school board, no mayor, no anything. It was run by three white men, appointed by the President of the United States, known as commissioners... But my idea was ‘I’m going to figure out how Government works.'”