The interview — say those who have heard countless retellings — seemed like any other: the reporter asked a question and Anna Stanley, in her eloquent style, answered, and so on and so forth.

But this time, there was a bombshell.

“Are you gay?”

A pause.


Her most closely guarded secret was out.

It was the early 1970s, a less accepting time. Stanley was just starting as a teaching associate in the U’s fledgling African-American Studies department. The infamous Morrill Hall sit-in, of which she had been an architect, was still fresh in people’s minds.

In the years that followed, she would be shunned for her sexuality by some fellow civil rights activists. Eventually, she left the university. Her name was omitted from official accounts of the protest.

But her activism continued. She left an imprint on the local women’s and gay-rights movements.

Her former classmate-turned-colleague John S. Wright recalled that she told it like it was, even when that meant incurring some wrath.

Her fiery lectures on black consciousness earned the admiration of young blacks. In high school, Phyllis Chapman sneaked out of class to go hear her speak.

It would be 30 years before Stanley again set foot in the department she helped nurture. A flier touted it as the return of one of the “forgotten leaders” of the Morrill Hall takeover. She was gracious about the delayed recognition, but unbending about her dismay at being left out of accounts about the U in the 1960s.

“It’s kind of weird,” Stanley told U historian Ann Pflaum in 1999. “It’s like watching revisionist history being written again and, again, we’re being left out.”

Libor Jany