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Ernest Green

Ernest G. Green was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on September 22, 1941 to Lothaire S. and Ernest G. Green, Sr. His parents instilled in him confidence and self-respect that helped him to become a leader among his peers and a civil rights advocate. He was one of the first black students to integrate at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, following the Supreme Court ruling to desegregate in 1954. Green is the oldest of the "Little Rock Nine," a group of high school students who entered Central High School on the morning of September 25, 1957, with an escort of paratroopers. Governor Orval Faubus had summoned National Guardsmen to turn away the black pupils in direct defiance of the federal government, which had already approved a desegregation plan for the school. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, for the first time since Reconstruction, sent in federal troops to protect the rights of the beleaguered students, and the students ultimately prevailed.Green graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in 1962 and an M.A. in 1964.

In 1965, Green became involved in employment law with a building-trade apprenticeship for the Adolph Institute, a project to help minority women in the South find opportunities for professional careers. He then directed the A. Phillip Randolph Education Fund from 1968 to 1976. Between 1977 and 1981, he served as assistant secretary in the Labor Department under President Jimmy Carter. Since 1981, Green has worked in the private sector for consulting firms. He was a partner for Green and Herman from 1981 to 1985, owned E. Green and Associates from 1985 to 1986, and has been with Lehman Brothers since 1985.

Green has been on the boards of various organizations, such as the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, AfriCare and the African Development Foundation. He has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the NAACP Spingarn Award, the Rockefeller Public Service Award, and honorary doctorates from Tougaloo College, Michigan State University, and Central State University.

He is married to Phyllis Green and they have three children, Adam, Jessica and McKenzie.

Accession Number

A2003.013

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/22/2003

Last Name

Green

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Central High School

Horace Mann High School

Michigan State University

First Name

Ernest

Birth City, State, Country

Little Rock

HM ID

GRE04

Favorite Season

September

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Rome, Italy

Favorite Quote

Little Rock.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/22/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Gumbo

Short Description

Investment executive and civil rights leader Ernest Green (1941 - ) was one of the "Little Rock Nine," the first group of black students to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Employment

Adolph Institute

A. Phillip Randolph Education Fund

United States Department of Labor

Green and Herman

E. Green and Associates

Lehman Brothers

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ernest Green's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ernest Green lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ernest Green describes his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ernest Green describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ernest Green describes his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ernest Green describes his family's involvement in a lawsuit against the Little Rock School District, led by Sue Cowan Williams

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ernest Green describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ernest Green describes how the media in Arkansas responded to the "Brown v. Board of Education" decision in 1954

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ernest Green describes his perception of the "Brown v. Board of Education" decision as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ernest Green talks about his siblings and his upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ernest Green describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ernest Green describes his childhood neighborhood in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ernest Green describes his youth in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ernest Green describes his childhood personality and interest in music

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ernest Green describes his experiences traveling to the North for the first time

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ernest Green describes his perception of the murder of Emmett Till

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ernest Green describes how national and local civil rights activities affected him as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ernest Green describes the influence of mother's educational experiences on his desire to enact change Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ernest Green describes his neighbor's negative reaction to his integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ernest Green describes his family's activism during the 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ernest Green describes what motivated him to transfer to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ernest Green describes meeting with the Little Rock School Board prior to transferring to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ernest Green describes his experiences the summer prior to enrolling at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ernest Green describes the events leading up to his helping to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ernest Green comments on the selection process of the Little Rock Nine

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ernest Green describes his friends' reactions to his integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ernest Green describes the implications of integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ernest Green talks about Governor Orval Faubus' response to the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ernest Green describes his first day at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ernest Green compares Central High School and Horace Mann High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ernest Green describes his experiences studying physics at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ernest Green describes how attending Central High School affected his performance as a student

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ernest Green describes his two semesters at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Ernest Green describes the interaction between he and his white peers at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ernest Green describes graduating from Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ernest Green describes enrolling at Michigan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ernest Green describes spending the summer in New York City, New York, prior to his undergraduate studies at Michigan State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ernest Green describes the attention he received upon enrolling at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ernest Green describes his experiences attending Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ernest Green considers his father's possible reaction to his integrating Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ernest Green describes what motivated him to become involved in the Labor Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ernest Green describes his internship with "Look" Magazine, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ernest Green describes his internship with "Look" Magazine, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ernest Green describes the impact of the Workers Defense League's apprenticeship program

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ernest Green describes how integrating Central High School benefitted him as a young adult

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ernest Green describes serving as director of the A. Philip Randolph Education Fund

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ernest Green talks about introducing HistoryMaker Alexis Herman to her first labor-related experience in Pascagoula, Mississippi

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ernest Green talks about being appointed as Assistant U.S. Secretary of Labor

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ernest Green describes what he learned from Bayard Rustin

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ernest Green talks about Bayard Rustin's role in the March on Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ernest Green talks about his accomplishments as Assistant U.S. Secretary of Labor

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ernest Green describes his consulting firm with HistoryMaker Alexis Herman and being hired as an investment banker for Shearson Lehman Brothers

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ernest Green describes how his educational background and networking skills benefitted him as an investment banker

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ernest Green describes the impact of networking and building relationships

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Ernest Green describes how President William "Bill" Clinton was influenced by the Little Rock Nine

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Ernest Green describes helping President William "Bill" Clinton strategize for the Illinois Primary during his presidential campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ernest Green notes how President William "Bill" Clinton built strategic relationships with the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Ernest Green describes his relationship with HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse Jackson

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Ernest Green describes his expectations of HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Ernest Green describes the turning point of HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Ernest Green comments on taking risks

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Ernest Green describes "The Ernest Green Story" biopic

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Ernest Green talks about the importance of recognizing and sharing the story of the Little Rock Nine

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Ernest Green talks about building a life beyond his experiences integrating Central High School

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Ernest Green comments on the state of the black community, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Ernest Green comments on the state of the black community, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Ernest Green talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Ernest Green talks about the importance of highlighting contemporary African American achievers

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Ernest Green comments on the benefits of being a member of the Little Rock Nine

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Ernest Green comments on the importance of acknowledging the Little Rock Nine's experiences integrating Central High School

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Ernest Green talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Ernest Green comments on integration and school bussing

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Ernest Green narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

6$3

DATitle
Ernest Green describes his first day at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas
Ernest Green describes his expectations of HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign
Transcript
Now your first day at school, when you finally, you know, got in. You were taken in through the, the side door.$$Right.$$What--did much happen that first day?$$Well the first day I was, I mean my focus those three weeks--cause I was the senior. I was really getting worried that I was losing time and wouldn't graduate. I mean I was--my main focus was graduating from high school and going to college. I didn't know where. I mean I hadn't picked a college. But I saw this time that I was losing really impacting negatively on my being able to get the credits and the hours and classes and all that. So that first day when we finally got in the school and stayed half a day, I think I was in my physics class and they sent a monitor to, to, to get--you heard some of the noise, depends on where you were in the school. The school is a huge building. And the--they sent a monitor to pull us out of class, this was right before noon. And we went to the principal's office and when--that's when they said they were having trouble keeping control of the mob out front and they wanted us to leave for our own safety. Well you know first I thought it was a ruse. I mean I'd spent three weeks trying to get into this school and now I'm finally in class and now they telling me I'm gone have to leave again. You know, but being a, a good, good boy, I followed orders. So when we got into the cars and sped out, we were all shocked at what was going on. And you know the, the hostility and anger on these people's faces. So when I finally got home again, the power of television, and saw you know, the turning over the police barricades and trying to run through them and overrun the Little Rock policemen, I, I really was beginning to worry that we'd never get back into this school 'cause Little Rock's local policemen were never gonna be powerful enough to protect us against, against these people. And then that night received the telegram from President [Dwight] Eisenhower. This was--let's see--my birthday, I turned--my birthday is on the 22nd of September. And I turned, turned seventeen, did I? No, I turned, yeah I turned sixteen because I was a year, I was a year advanced compared to my peers. So it was--I was fifteen going into the senior year, sixteen in '57 [1957], yeah, 'cause '41 [1941]. Yeah, so it would be--I turned sixteen that September. Anyway, the telegram came the night of my birthday and the 23rd was when we finally went into Central [High School, Little Rock, Arkansas].$Now when you got involved with Reverend [Jesse] Jackson [HM], what were you wanting to see happen? I mean what was the--sort of the game plan? What did--$$Well I wanted--you know I didn't know whether we could win the presidency, but I, I did think they underestimated Jesse's both personal ability and his political relationships. And it turned out--I always tell this story that the--a lot of the news organizations attached journalists to Jesse's campaign 'cause they figured it was gonna blow up and go away. Well it turned out that Jesse was the only one that went the distance. In fact he had a lot to do with a lot of, of journalistic careers. Jack White [HM], Boyd who's managing "New York Times". A lot of them began their career covering Jesse's political campaign. My expectation that he was gonna help democratize the Democratic party. I thought that in many ways, and probably is still the case, the black vote doesn't get its proper due. And that really it was--I was also interested in the mechanics of campaigning; the people who were running it. And so now you look at Donna Brazile [HM], Charles Duncan, people who have become--built reputations on, on how to run a campaign. Jesse was terribly important to create that and to create widening opportunities. So what I saw was again, raising the bar, widening the door and I think Reverend Jackson achieved that.