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Alan Townsend Oral History

Identifier: QMP-0013

Scope and Contents

Alan Townsend recalls his early time in New York as a counselor for girls’ school Callagy Hall, where he was part of union activism on staff; becoming accustomed to and understanding New York City youth as part of his job at Callagy Hall; starting as a SEEK counselor at Queens College in 1969; living on Christopher Street and the West Village in NYC pre-Stonewall, and later living in Springfield Gardens and Flushing in Queens and the Black communities there; growing up in North Carolina with Sam Floyd, English professor at Queens College.

He also talks about his impressions of the early members and direction of the SEEK Program; activism on campus from 1969 on; the struggle to keep the SEEK Program functioning at QC and to install Black and Latino faculty; the SEEK Rebellion in 1969; interactions with and impressions of Lloyd Delaney, Director of Counseling for SEEK; experience of creating a radical pedagogy in real time; experiences with specific students; his own scholarship and dissertation about the SEEK Program; creation of the Scholastic Standing Committee; directing the SEEK summer program; fighting efforts to defund SEEK under Mayor Abraham Beame in 1975; students’ experiences with racism and racist faculty on QC’s campus; budget cuts of the 1990’s and early 2000’s; changing demographics and attitudes of SEEK students and their relationships with staff; open admissions policy and its challenges and effects on the SEEK Program.


  • 2019-09-17



This oral history is open for research. Media files and transcript can be viewed and/or requested through the Queens Memory Project on Aviary: For help using the site, contact

Conditions Governing Use

Interview shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Users are free to share or adapt the material for non-commercial purposes, as long as they meet the terms of the license. See license details at

Biographical / Historical

Alan Townsend was born April 29, 1936 in Durham, North Carolina. He was drafted and served as a medic in South Korea and attended North Carolina Central (a historically black liberal arts university). He came to New York City permanently in 1959, where he worked in social services at Callagy Hall, and then later was a counselor in the SEEK Program at Queens College until retirement in 2006. While a staff member of SEEK, Townsend also ran the SEEK summer programs and started the Scholastic Standing Committee.


1 Digital Files ; Duration: 01:26:48

953.7 Megabytes

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to Queens College and Queens Public Library by Obden Mondesir and Alan Townsend in September, 2019.

Processing Information

Oral history conducted as part of the Queens Memory Project (, a collaborative program of the Queens Public Library and Queens College to collect stories, images, and other evidence of life in the borough of Queens.


Caitlin Waldron
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Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us