First Black Editor of Technician Tells His Story
Chris Hart-Williams | Staff Writer
In 1989, Dwuan June became the first African-American to hold the position of Editor-In-Chief of Technician.
June lead the student paper three years before Nubian Message was founded by Tony Williamson in 1992, a time when racial tensions at N.C. State were heightened.
At Technician June created the column “Like it is,” where he openly expressed his views of N.C. State and student life.
As editor June was actively involved in how Technician covered the Men’s Basketball scandal that ended in the departure of Jim Valvano in 1990. June was also editor during the election and resignation of Brian Nixon, the second African-American Student Body President at State. Nixon left office after he received death threats, physical abuse and even an attack by students while outside his dorm room. June says he remembers the stress put on Nixon leading up to his resignation and said that they were both impacted by the Jimmy Valvano scandal. At the time June made it known that he felt the Men’s basketball program should be dismantled for a while.“Not only did I have to deal with the student body, but I had to deal with alumni and I’m quite sure Brian had to deal with the alumni situations too…that period was very stressful.”
June now works in D.C. as a designer for The Washington Post, one of the top newspapers in the country.
Nubian Message: How did it feel to be the first African-American Editor-in-Chief of Technician?
June: It was just like being any other editor, it just so happened that I was African-American. It started as a normal process and then as the year went on, and I had other people saying ‘you have to take responsibility’ it became more of an issue. For example when we were doing the Black History Month section that’s when it [my race] started to take more emphasis that you know ‘hey you’re this black guy that’s in charge of the newspaper who has to sort of represent the whole black community and how do you handle this’… You really don’t want your color to effect your news coverage, because you have to say would you cover this regardless of your color and that’s when it sort of became an issue, you know being black and trying to cover the news on campus.
NM: What was your relationship with the second African- American Student Body President, Brian Nixon?
June: Brian and I were actually from the same part of North Carolina. Brian and I use to play ball together. I knew Brian since his freshman year. When he was president and I became editor it was kind of like a double whammy. I was like this is my boy here and I’m his boy, you know. So we were pretty ecstatic at that moment.
NM: Do you think that you had to tolerate more because of your race or was your job naturally stressful?
June: Both. I got a letter from a very old alumnus and he made specific mention of my race. He said ‘You should all remember what the basketball program has done for your race.’ So, I think that race had something to do with it. I got a lot of hate when I was editor from old alumni and students on campus. What’s troubling is you’re going to school with students who have not learned anything different. By that, I mean their train of thought on what they think other races do. They use that as a fall back to vent their anger… these are your peers and they haven’t progressed further than their parents, like that guy that sent that hate mail. That’s pretty damning there.
NM: When you left N.C. State had racial tensions changed for the better?
June: Racially, its kind of hard to say. I can’t say the salt that I tasted was from the whole campus because you know, I was a pretty controversial figure on campus. I had written this column ‘Like it is,” so I put a really big target on my back. It was out there, I pretty much went after everybody, sororities, even the black community. It was a very popular column because I took no prisoners but it also made me a target. I used to get dead birds hanging from the door of my dorm room. I had dog excrement mailed to me in the mailbox, those are just some of the things that were sent to me. I had people come to my dorm late at night throwing trash cans up against my door and people saying ‘I’m gonna get you, I’m gonna get you.’ It’s hard to say that my experiences weren’t very typical of N.C. State. Now that being said, N.C. State does have some issues it needs to address.We’re not a very tolerant campus, we could do things better, we could be more open. The Free Expression Tunnel is what is, but it may be time to rethink what it does. It allows people to express what they really think…that’s what that ‘free expression tunnel does. If you look in our magazines we put out, diversity is kind of lacking. Diversity is lacking at State. So in that regard I don’t know if things have changed that much. To answer the question, I think we are the same University we were 20 plus years ago.