Interview with Paula Giddings

What affect did the takeover and all this ferment of activity have on you?


I guess the most obvious and the first thing that comes to mind was that I got an Afro. I went with straightened hair and came out with an Afro. And I'll never forget the first time I went home to see my mother who, ah, is not an emotional woman and is a very cool and collected woman but when I opened the door and she saw my Afro along with the beaded earrings and the fake fur coat and the, and the, and the pants. She, the poor woman just broke down and cried. I remember her sitting at that dining room table and just put her head down and cried very bitter tears. A number of my friends of course, I remember us trading reactions, when we, a number of us had gotten Afros and gone home. When we came back to school, one of my friends said, that her mother thought that next she'd probably be on dope since she had gotten an Afro that was the next, seq, that was the only logical thing where she could go after that. So, that had happened. But more importantly I, I got a very--new sense of self a new sense of my Black self, of, in terms of culture in terms of politics in terms of the right to demand certain things. The right to feel good about your self. And I had always had a, a good sense of myself but not necessarily a clear sense of myself as a Black person, and I think that was the important thing. And it was something that I think I was searching for, now that I think about. And Certainly I found that at Howard. Certainly as a person who was always interested in writing, all of the debates and all of the, the editing and the selection of work, ah, about the new poetry movement and all that was going on. Certainly the idea of what the role of a writer should be, was formed at Howard, what good literature should be in Arthur Davis' class which I learned was formed at Howard. And that certainly stayed with me. I mean certainly that's a very important legacy that stayed with me throughout my career.


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