Marilyn Lowen
Oral History/Interview


Provided courtesy of Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement Inc.

Marilyn Lowen is a poet, writer, teacher and lifelong human rights worker. She began protesting racial injustice as an elementary school student. When her Detroit neighborhood was targeted for blockbusting, she formed an integrated youth association to prevent "white flight". In junior high school she joined Detroit Brotherhood Youth Council, demonstrating to desegregate a local swimming pool. While in college, she worked with two Black New York radical organizations, the Harlem Anti-Colonial Committee which supported anti-colonial movements in Africa, and the Freedom Now Party advocating third party politics. She created a civil rights movement support group at her college for SNCC and NSMs activities in both the South and North.

She left college to work full time with the Northern Student Movement's Harlem Education Project during 1963 and 1964. In 1965 she joined SNCCs photo department in Atlanta. Later that year she moved to Tougaloo, Mississippi to continue working with SNCC, then the Child Development Group of Mississippi and later with its successor the Friends of the Children of Mississippi. She participated in the 1966 Meredith March Against Fear, the "Black Power" march. Lowen worked closely with civil rights leader Mrs. Winson Hudson of NAACP, COFO and MFDP in Leake and Neshoba Counties establishing Headstart Centers. She assisted Ms. Hudson in writing her (unpublished) autobiography, "A Lonely Walk to the Courthouse."

She moved to New York City in August of 1968, fearing that her mixed-race infant would be in danger if she gave birth to him in a Mississippi hospital. She eventually completed her undergraduate education through Goddard's Adult Degree Program and earned a Master's Degree to qualify her to continue working as an educator. She taught many subjects to students from pre-school to college from 1973 through 2014, primarily in New York City public schools. She has been a Resident NYCHA public housing tenant leader for 45 years.

Marilyn has continued to participate in movements for the rights of tenants, women, students and teachers, as well as for peace and human rights. She returned to Detroit in 2014, reconnecting with SNCC veterans and Detroits amazing organizing traditions in housing, freedom schools and human rights. She is a Board Member of the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.


Copyright © Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement Inc., 2006.

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