Interview with Tony Gittens

Talk again about what Dean Snowden represented. What was his attitude that so upset people?


Well Dr. Snowden represented the whole attitude that civilization was White civilization. Ah, he was a very accomplished scholar. He had gotten all of his degrees from Harvard. Ah, his expertise was the classics, classical civilization. Greek or Roman classical civilization. And he, he had this snobbishness about him that tended to just rub a lot of people, not only students, but also faculty, in the wrong way. And so in everything he said and did, the way he carried himself, his attitude towards people, the way he dealt with people, he just personified this whole, the attitude that, ah, the only way to be considered a civilized, cultured person was to be as White as possible. And so that's what he represented. He represented that as long as I was at Howard, and as long as he was at Howard. And, ah, a lot of, most people felt that way about him. So he became this symbol, this focus for us to, ah, sort of key in on. Ah, to say that no, that's not the way it is. You know there are a lot of other civilizations that are very developed. How about your own, African civilization that was very developed and, ah, ah, good music need not be classical. Or European classical music. Ah, that, ah, acceptable, civilized dress need not be bow-ties, which he wore daily. Ah, that they could be dashikis and, and, ah, women could cut their hair in Afro styles. And men could allow their hair to grow out. And these were things that he tended to be, tended to oppose. Ah, so he became sort of our focus for, for confronting that whole attitude.