Civil rights activist Carl Snowden was born on June 17, 1953, in Baltimore, Maryland, and was raised in Annapolis, Maryland, where he attended Annapolis Elementary School. As a student, Snowden was greatly influenced by The Autobiography of Malcolm X. In 1970, Snowden, and fourteen other students, were expelled from Annapolis High School after they boycotted classes to protest the school’s lack of African American teachers and African American studies courses. Local benefactors raised funds for him to attend the private Key School in Annapolis. As a young adult, Snowden organized an African American group called VOTE.
1976, Snowden successfully sued the FBI for illegally spying on him through the COINTELPRO program, designed to keep activists under surveillance. Snowden was surveilled from ages 16 through 24. Snowden was awarded $10,000 and the FBI was required to expunge his files. Snowden received his M.A. degree in human services from Lincoln University in 1985.