Interview with Paula Giddings

If you could talk also about the crowning, what was it like? You're sitting in assembly, again personally, and the homecoming queen is about to be announced, what is it like? Set the stage as if we have no film.


I remember very much the, the evening when the homecoming queen was crown. And I was in Crampton Auditorium, which was filled to the hilt. For the last time all the candidates were announced and went up on, and, the stage in, in the auditorium. And the way that the, the whole evening was set was very, very dramatic. What would happen after that is that the lights went down and all the candidates went behind the curtain, back of the stage. The ballot was, actually secret balloting, so no one in the auditorium knew who was going to win. And the idea was that there was a, ah, there was a throne, a high backed throne, ah, with, with its back to the audience, behind the curtain, and there was a revolving stage, so whoever would win, whoever would win, would sit on that throne and then slowly revolve toward the audience. Ah, the lights went down. The candidates went back. Then you heard the curtains open. And you heard the crank of the revolving stage begin. And as the stage revolved and turned around toward the audience, the lights began to come up at the same time. Well, before you saw Robin, you saw the way the lights hit, cast a silhouette on the curtains and you saw the silhouette of her Afro before you saw her. Well, the auditorium exploded. And everybody exploded. Ah, it was, it was a wonderful moment. People started jumping up and screaming and some were raising their fists, ah, then spontaneously a chant began, the chant was umgawa Black power, umgawa Black power, and, ah, a chain was created. People started to, to march to it, to the rhythm of umgawa Black power and there was a line that went all the way around the auditorium and more and more people joined the line. I did it to as it, as it went around the auditorium. And finally out the door and into the streets of Washington, D.C., pass the campus and, and, still chanting umgawa Black power and that was really the launching of that movement at Howard.**