DuBois-Bunche Center for Public Policy Distinguished Lecturer,
Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York
Professor Roger L. Green was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in a family with a long history of participation in the struggles to advance human rights and economic justice.
Roger L. Green was educated in the New York City Public school system and later graduated from Southern Illinois University, where he attained a triple major in Cultural Anthropology, International Affairs and Government. After his graduation and return to Brooklyn, he became involved in local politics. Green joined several civil rights groups and community organizations concerned with the elimination of racism and social injustice. Eventually, he was elected to the New York State Assembly, taking office on January 15, 1981 after an historic election that required him to win an unprecedented three primary runoffs.
During his tenure in public office, Roger Green distinguished himself as an architect of laws, policies and institutions that defined his commitment to civil and human rights within New York State, the nation, and the world community. Beginning in 1981, Green participated in numerous mass mobilizations and legislative mobilizations dedicated to the abolition of police brutality. In response to the deaths of Luis Baez, Randolph Evans and Eleanor Bumpers, Green authored legislation creating the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College. This social justice advocacy organization has become a renowned transformative vehicle for the abolition of racial injustice. The Center worked with the New York City Council to author the disparity study which quantified discriminatory practices within the construction industry.
From 1986 to 1988, Green served his first tenure as Chair of the New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus. During his term, the Caucus was viewed as the preeminent voice in support of laws designed to reduce and prosecute racial violence. Following the racial killing of Michael Griffith in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, Green joined the Reverend Al Sharpton, Reverend Timothy Mitchell, and Reverend Herbert Daughtry in citywide protests entitled the Day of Outrage. Following his arrest for civil disobedience, Green returned to Albany and worked with Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve in the co-authorship of the New York State Anti-Bias Bill. This bill was the first comprehensive legislation to include prosecution for violence against members of the gay community.
In 1986, the Senate Majority of the Republican Caucus presented Green and Eve with an opportunity to pass their bill if they would agree to drop “gay rights” language from their proposal. Green, Eve and other members of the Caucus considered this an unprincipled compromise. During a debate within the Assembly, Green quoted Dr. King’s admonition that “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”… Six years later, following a major “March for Justice” and lobbying effort, the anti-bias bill which was authored by Green and Eve was signed into law by the Governor.
In 1983, Coretta Scott King and labor leader, Cleveland Robinson asked Green to serve as the New York State Political Coordinator for the Memorial March on Washington. It was during this period that Green authored the bill that established the New York State Martin Luther King Holiday Commission and the New York State Martin Luther King Institute. In 1985 and 1986 in conjunction with the founding of the National Holiday, Governor Cuomo signed these bills into law.
From 1986 – 1991, the New York State Martin Luther King Institute trained more than 1,000 high school and college students through its Ella Baker Academy. Students participating in this program learned the theory and practice of non-violent conflict resolution. Students were also provided with an opportunity to study civil rights and human rights social history. In 1982 – 1992, Green was actively involved in the global struggle to dismantle apartheid and to establish a free democratic South Africa.
Green served as co-sponsor of the State Divestiture Bill, which was authored by the Honorable Albert Vann. He also served as political coordinator for the June 14th March Against Apartheid. This was the largest anti-apartheid demonstration in the history of the U.S. Following this march, the U.N. Special Commission on Human Rights appointed Green as one of the 8 U.S. delegates to the World Conference Against Apartheid in Paris, France which was organized to develop strategies to eliminate this injustice.
Upon the release of Nelson Mandela, Green worked directly with the leadership of the African National Congress, Harry Belafonte, and labor leaders Cleveland Robinson and Jim Bell to formulate the Nelson Mandela Welcoming Committee for the historic visit of Mandela to the U.S.
From 1989 – 2005, Green served with distinction as the Chair of the Standing Committee on Children and Families in the New York State Legislature. During his tenure, he authored numerous groundbreaking laws dedicated to protecting the rights of children.
During the height of the genocidal conflict within Rwanda, Dr. Vera Makonde, representing survivors of this tragedy who lived in the U.S., urged Green to serve as the Chair of the Rwanda Children’s Aid Committee. Green accepted this responsibility. As Chair of the Committee, Green raised moral and material support for the children who were orphaned or made refugees as a result of this crisis.
In 2006, Green retired from the New York State Legislature. Shortly after, the Chancellor of the City University of New York and the President of Medgar Evers College, appointed him as a Distinguished Lecturer. Green currently teaches a course that explores the historical significance of the freedom amendments, 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments and their influence on state and local government. Green is also the Director of the Dubois-Bunche Center on Public Policy. The Center is a think tank dedicated to advancing best practices in law, policy, and community covenants that advance social and economic justice for urban communities within the U.S. and throughout the African Diaspora.
Professor Green is married to labor rights and human rights advocate, Coraminita Mahr, is the father of three children, Corlita, Khalid and Imani, and grandfather of one grandchild, Belle. Green spends his spare time writing poetry and essays that explore among other things the commonalities between diverse people and cultures and the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the world’s children.