Doris Snowden / President of the NAACP-Tucson Branch
Q: Where were you born?
In Coleman, Texas. My parents John and Bernice Payne had moved to Gila Bend, Arizona, because my father got a job with the railroad. My mother went back home to stay with my grandmother Cecelia because she had complications with her pregnancies, and she returned to Gila Bend when it was safe for her to travel. We lived in Gila Bend for the next 12 years, and I attended an all-Black school for the first year and a half there.
Q: How did you become interested in your career field?
I retired from Pima Community College after 33 years there, including being an advisor, counselor, and associate dean. That position taught me the leadership skills I needed to meet any challenge. Becoming President of the Tucson Branch NAACP, which I did in 2014, was not on my bucket list, but God knew that I could successfully do the job.
Q: What is the biggest challenge of your job?
Blending different generations. The group’s ages span from 20s to 80s. The younger generation is used to social media, but most of the older individuals are still in the process of learning. Both groups are needed to keep the NAACP-Tucson Branch relevant in today’s society. With the coronavirus pandemic, we have to learn a new way of operating. Our new normal is Zoom meetings. After 400 years, we are still dealing with racism in America. Love, not hate, is one of the ways we can stop misunderstanding each other. Like the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis once said, we have to get into good trouble to bring about change. Vote, vote, vote!
Q: What is the greatest reward of your job?
Being able, with the help of Annie Sykes and Frances Miller working with the UA Tech Park, to have a street named “MLK Way.” We also had Congresswoman Maxine Waters as a keynote speaker for our annual Freedom Fund Dinner in 2018. The NAACP has been in Tucson for 100-plus years. I am proud to be the president of the oldest civil rights organization in America. The NAACP-Tucson Branch is actively working on voter rights and the U.S. Census. I am glad to see the Black Lives Matter groups across America standing up against the injustice that is still happening in this country. The local and National NAACP have joined in this fight for justice.
Q: Do you have any family members in Tucson?
My wonderful husband Aaron, as well as two of my daughters, and two of my eight grandchildren.
Q: Where would you most like to vacation next — and why?
I would like to return to Ghana, Africa. I had the joy of going with the National NAACP for the 400 Year Trip starting in Jamestown, Virginia. Seeing my people felt like I came home. Seeing the door of No Return — now the Door of Return — I could feel the spirit of my lost ancestors.