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Frank Snowden

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Title: Frank Snowden  
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Frank Snowden

Frank M. Snowden, Jr.
Born July 17, 1911
York County, Virginia, U.S.
Died February 18, 2007 (2007-02-19) (aged 95)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Cause of death Congestive heart failure
Nationality American
Alma mater Boston Latin School
Harvard University
Occupation Professor emeritus
Specialist lecturer
Cultural attaché
Spouse(s) Elaine Hill Snowden (wife)
Relatives Frank M. Snowden, Sr. (father)
Frank M. Snowden III (son)

Frank M. Snowden, Jr. (July 17, 1911 – February 18, 2007), was an American professor emeritus of classics at Howard University, best known for his study of blacks in classical antiquity.

Early life and education

Snowden was born in rural York County, Virginia, on July 17, 1911. His father was an civilian employee of the U.S. Department of the Army, who later worked as a businessman. Snowden graduated from Boston Latin School and earned undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Harvard University. He taught classics at Georgetown University, Vassar College, and Mary Washington College. He was dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Howard University, and was the first honoree in the Howard University Libraries' "Excellence at Howard" program.

Snowden's many books include Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience (1970), which received the Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit of the American Philological Association, The Image of the Black in Western Art I: From the Pharaohs to the Fall of the Roman Empire, which he co-authored (1976), and Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks (1983).


Snowden was largely known for his studies of black people in the ancient world. He documented that in ancient Rome and Greece racial prejudice was not an issue. Much of this, according to Snowden, is because most of the blacks they encountered were not slaves. Most slaves in the Roman Empire were white. Most of the blacks they met were warriors, statesmen, and mercenaries. Therefore, blacks were not subjected to the racism of modern civilization. He studied ancient art and literature, and he found evidence that blacks were able to co-exist with the Greeks and Romans.

Snowden served as a member of the American delegation to UNESCO in Paris, France, as a cultural attaché to the United States Embassy in Rome, Italy, and as a specialist lecturer for the U.S. State Department.

Later life and death

In 2003, Snowden was honored at the White House as a recipient of the National Humanities Medal. He died of congestive heart failure in Washington, D.C., on February 18, 2007.

Personal life

Snowden lived in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Elaine Hill Snowden, whom he was married to from 1935, until her death in 2005. He was fluent in Latin, Greek, German, French and Italian. His son, Frank M. Snowden III, is a professor of twentieth century Italian history at Yale University.


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