Interview with Tony Gittens
QUESTION 17
JUDY RICHARDSON:

You talked at one point about the connection bet--that they were trying to keep the university separate from the community. Can you say something about that?

TONY GITTENS:

The univ--Howard University is located, ah, in a community that parts of it are developed, but there's a whole strip along Georgia Avenue that's not very developed. And there's always been this confrontation, this, this conflict between, ah, what, in that, at that point were called these block boys or, or gangs, kids who lived in, in the area, and Howard students whom they viewed as being middle class and snobbish. And our feeling was that the university had to relate to its immediate environment if it was going to live up to its mandate. I mean it, you know we, we, we couldn't be, ah, ah, creating officers for ROTC, ah, to go fight wars thousands of miles away and then have a community that's, I mean not even like right next door, but right at your door that, ah, where there's all kinds of problems, economic problems and, ah, social problems, and not really, and health problems, and not really do anything for them. And so a lot of things now that ah--

JUDY RICHARDSON:

If you could say, if you could talk a little bit--

TONY GITTENS:

So we wanted the university to just what we call relate to the community. You know to have events that would, ah, would be attractive enough for people in the area to come in. You know to have concerts and things. Ah, we wanted them to relate to ah all kinds of activities that were going on in the communities. There were social groups and church organizations that were doing things. And you know we had students and we went out and we tried to participate in them and bring speakers and, ah, from those communities. We talked about all kinds of things that, ah, never really took place. But daycare centers for, for young mothers. And med-school doctors who would go out and spend some time, you know, working with people there. So that, that was what we were looking for. That was our, our utopia. For what the university should do for people who live right there.