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Ernest Gideon Green
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Date of birth: September 22, 1941(1941-09-22)
Place of birth: Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
Movement: African-American Civil Rights Movement

Ernest Gideon Green (born September 22, 1941) was one of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who, in 1957, were the first black students ever to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Green was the first black to graduate from the school. In 1999, he and the other people of the Little Rock Nine were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton.


Early life and education

Ernest Green was born in Little Rock to George G. Till, Sr. and Lothaire S. Green. Following his brush with national fame, Green attended Michigan State University as the beneficiary of a scholarship provided by an anonymous donor. While at Michigan State, Green became a charter member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity's Sigma chapter and continued to engage in activism and protests supporting the Civil Rights movement. He later learned that the anonymous donor was John A. Hannah, the president of Michigan State, and ironically, an occasional target of protests by Civil Rights activists including Green. Green graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1962 and a Master of Arts in 1964. Green also was the top of his class. Excerpt from the 50 year anniversary program;

Born in Little Rock in 1941, Ernest Green made history on May 27, 1958, when he became the first African-American to graduate from Little Rock's Central High School, following a school year that began with a Constitutional crisis. The son of Lothaire and Ernest Green Sr., Ernest has a brother, Scott, and a sister Treopia Washington.

Like the rest of the Little Rock Nine, Ernest came from a family which placed a lot of emphasis on the importance of education and personal development. Consequently, Ernest participated in church activities and the Boy Scouts of America, eventually earning the rank of Eagle Scout.[1] He attended segregated Dunbar Junior High School and graduated after ninth grade, at which time he was assigned to Horace Mann High School, a new high school for African-Americans.

At the end of his junior year at Horace Mann, Ernest volunteered to attend the all-white Little Rock Central High School in fall of 1957 and help desegregate one of the nation's largest school. Central High offered a wider and more complex curriculum than Horace Mann did, making educational opportunities available quite desirable.

Ernest became the only senior among the nine African Americans who decided to integrate Central High that fall. Not only did Ernest survive the daily harassment and intermittent violence the rest of the Little Rock Nine experienced, he had to study extraordinarily hard to make sure he graduated and could demonstrate that African Americans were equally capable of attending Central High as anyone else.

Martin Luther King Jr., who was in Arkansas to speak to the white people Mechanical and Normal College’s commencement in Pine Bluff, attended Ernest’s graduation with the Green family 50 years ago.

After high school, Ernest attended and graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in 1962 and a master’s degree in sociology two years later. His career has included nonprofit work at the A. Phillip Randolph Education Fund (1968-1977), experience in government as the Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Affairs under President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981).


In 1965, he received an apprenticeship in building trades from the Adolph Institute, a program designed to help minority women in the South with career development issues. From 1968 to 1976, he served as Director of the A. Philip Randolph Education Fund. From 1977 to 1981, he served as an Assistant Secretary of Labor during Jimmy Carter's administration. From 1981 to 1985 he was a partner in the firm Green and Herman; from 1985 to 1986 he owned E. Green and Associates. Since 1985 has been with Lehman Brothers, where he is currently a Managing Director in the fixed income department of the Washington, D.C. firm, where he focuses on public finance; he is also a board member at the Albert Shanker Institute. [2] Ernest earned his Eagle Scout Award in 1956 prior to attending Central High.[3] Over 25 years later he received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award which BSA has awarded to fewer than 2000 men who earned Eagle as a Scout. In 2004, he organized the Scoutreach program in Washington, DC and served as the program's volunteer Chair. This program is in its 4th year serving 600 boys in distressed neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.

Television portrayals

Green has been depicted in two made-for-television movies about the Little Rock Nine. He was portrayed by Calvin Levels in the 1981 CBS movie Crisis at Central High,[4] and by Morris Chestnut in the 1993 Disney Channel movie The Ernest Green Story.[5]

In 1980, he was part of the Milton Friedman (PBS) Free to Choose panel discussion (volume 8 of 10) related to workers rights and the economy.

See also

External links




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