When she wasn’t under arrest, Hall taught classes and conducted research, but what she found most important was watching her students grow.
“Watching them speak and just renewing my sense of how diverse and wonderful careers they’ve had — all the different kind of things they’ve done with their lives makes me feel that working with those students is the most important thing that I’ve done,” Hall said.
Hall left a lasting mark at the University — not only with her students, but also with her colleagues.
Fitz Brundage, chairman of the history department, said Hall was a wonderful professor and scholar.
“She was committed to (her students) ... to their own personal commitments in terms of social justice or politics or social activism,” he said. “As a person, she is exceedingly gracious, very collegial and lively.”
Hall has been exposed to activism since she was a child, and she used her scholarly work to promote activism and social awareness.
Hall started the Southern Oral History Program in 1973.
“We collect interviews with people from across the South, which are then archived and made available for use by researchers as well as community members and teachers,” said Rachel Seidman, associate director of the program.
The program gives a voice to stories that aren’t always included in textbooks and uses individual accounts and perspectives.
Seidman said she has nothing but admiration and respect for Hall.
“She was an iconic figure to me when I was a graduate student,” Seidman said. “She’s become a real life mentor, inspiration and friend.”
Hall and Seidman are both founding members of Scholars for North Carolina’s Future, a program that gets scholars involved in activism and uses their expertise for political discussions.
“The point of it is to galvanize scholars across the state to speak out issues of politics and public policy in North Carolina,” Hall said.
Hall might be retiring, but she is staying busy. She is continuing to work with Scholars for North Carolina’s Future, Lillian’s List — which finds and trains female candidates for public office — and Moral Monday protests.
“The way you throw a pebble in the pond, you don’t know where it will land. The ripples are small, but they do travel outward,” she said.