Muriel S. Snowden

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Muriel S. Snowden
Born 14 July 1916
Died 30 September 1988
Boston, MA
Nationality American
Known for community activism

Muriel Sutherland Snowden (14 July 1916 – 30 September 1988) was the founder and co-director of Freedom House, a community improvement center in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She is, together with her husband Otto P. Snowden, a major figure in Boston history and activism.[1][2]

Life[edit]

Snowden was raised in Glen Ridge, New Jersey and graduated valedictorian of her high school in 1934.[3] She later attended Radcliffe College, graduating in 1938. In giving her an alumnae achievement award in 1964, Radcliffe College said of Snowden: "Wise promoter of human happiness for the betterment of mankind, compassionate spirit where human frailties cause human distress, she has long devoted herself to the alleviation of those social ills which have too long crippled mankind's progress."[4] She then worked as a volunteer for a settlement house in Newark and an investigator for the Essex Welfare Board. She also studied at the New York School of Social Work from 1943-1945 and funded her education with the Urban League Fellowship. She eventually part-time taught community organization at Simmons College School of Social Work from 1958-1970.[5] She was also the executive director of the Cambridge Civic Unity Committee from 1948 to 1950.[3]

She married Otto P. Snowden in 1944, and they moved to Boston. Gail Snowden was their only child.

The Snowdens founded Freedom House in 1949, purchasing a building on Crawford Street as a home base in 1952. Freedom House was a well-known and active advocacy organization in Upper Roxbury, at times even known as the "Black Pentagon", serving as the major meeting spot for Boston's African-American activist community.[6] The Snowdens accomplished more for the rights of African-Americans in Boston than any other couple of their generation. Speaking of her family's commitment to living in the Roxbury neighborhood, Muriel Snowden once said "We decided long ago we weren't going anywhere, and we were going to stay here ... This is a commitment. You have a direction, a feeling about where you're going."[3] Her daughter Gail became chairman of the foundation's board.[1]

Her other positions include director of National Shawmut Bank of Boston[7] and trustee of both Babson College and University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Snowden died from cancer at the age of 72.[3]

The Snowden International School, near Copley Square, credits her for their international-themed curriculum and is named after her.[8][9] Her papers are held at Northeastern University.[10]

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Editorial. "Freedom House at 50". The Boston Globe. 1999-02-25.
  2. ^ Harmon, Lawrence. "For Jews and blacks, a connection remains." The Boston Globe, p. K-11. 2010-12-12.
  3. ^ a b c d Driscoll, Edgar. "Muriel Snowden, 72; Cofounder of Freedom House In Roxbury [Obituary]." The Boston Globe. 1988-10-01.
  4. ^ Radcliffe in 1964 gave her its alumnae achievement award, with this citation: "Wise promoter of human happiness for the betterment of mankind, compassionate spirit where human frailties cause human distress, she has long devoted herself to the alleviation of those social ills which have too long crippled mankind's progress."
  5. ^ Ware, Susan (2004). Notable American Women. President and Fellows of Harvard College. pp. 602–603. ISBN 0-674-01488-X. 
  6. ^ Irons, Meghan, "At Freedom House, a fight for survival". The Boston Globe, p.3. 2008-10-26.
  7. ^ "People." Jet Magazine. 1973-11-22.
  8. ^ Wen, Patricia. "Back Bay School's Name to Change: city votes to honor Muriel S. Snowden", The Boston Globe, 1988-06-03.
  9. ^ "Back Bay West: Muriel Snowden International High School." Boston Women's Heritage Trail. http://bwht.org/tours/back-bay-west
  10. ^ Richards, Nancy and Ellen Lassiter. "Collection Overview." Archives and Special Collections Finding Aids: Muriel S. and Otto P. Snowden papers. Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections, December 1997 and November 2005. Web. Accessed 25 March 2014.
  11. ^ "Past Recipients of the Harvard Medal." Harvard Alumni Website. http://alumni.harvard.edu/volunteer/recognition/harvard-medal

External links[edit]