Biographical Sketches

Muriel S. Snowden, daughter of a successful dentist, grew up in an upper-middle class all-white neighborhood in New Jersey. Upon arriving at Radcliffe as a freshman, Muriel was forced to live off campus so she would not disturb “the sensibilities of the southern girls.” After protesting this unfair treatment, Muriel was allowed to move into a dormitory. Muriel attended New York School of Social Work, studying community organizing and race relations until her marriage to Otto Snowden in 1945. She was the executive director of the Cambridge Civic Unity commission prior to becoming co-founder of Freedom House.


Otto P. Snowden moved to Boston in 1917 at age three when his father, a member of the Army Quartermaster Corps, was transferred. In high school, Otto’s first act of political resistance was to organize his fellow track team members in a boycott to protest racial policies at the school. After World War II and a short stay in the service, Otto became Executive Director of St. Mark’s Social Center where he began organizing the Council for Community Affairs of Upper Roxbury, the precursor of Freedom House.