Interview with Tony Gittens
QUESTION 07
JUDY RICHARDSON:

Excuse me. Could you just start with Lowdnes County again. Just refer to the fact that you went down and talk maybe about the strength you saw in the people and then go very quickly to Orangeburg.

TONY GITTENS:

Got it. OK. So when we were in Lowdnes County, it was incredible to me to see this determination on the part of, ah, rural, ah, Black people who had much less than, than we at Howard had. Ah, and then to see the, the determination and the strength on the part of the SNCC organizers that were there, who had left college, who had decided that this was what they were going to do with their lives. Ah, and it was just incredible to me that, you know, people were willing to put their lives on the line, you know, day after day, for this. And it just had a tremendous impact on me. This was in Lowdnes County. Then later, ah, some students had been killed, ah, in, at Orangeburg, at a university there. And I went down, ah, with some other journalists, ah, to look at that. And there met these students who, because of a demonstration, the same kind of demonstrations that we were having, ah, actually people had been killed and shot. Ah, again, had a tremendous impression on me. Because these people had been willing to give their lives for something. It was not a game for them, ah, it was not a media event for them. And, ah, the impact that it had, ah, on me and other people, ah, whom I related it to when I got back was just incredible. And then what we were doing at Howard and the dangers there seemed minimal compared to what other people were willing to face for the same kind of reasons.** Ah, and those were experiences that just totally changed my view about the role of a student, my role of a student and what I began to define as a role of other students.