MSU alumnus, former dean and civil rights leader visits campus to speak about new book
Though Robert L. Green, an MSU alumnus, former professor and former dean of the disbanded College of Urban Development at MSU, recently visited campus to talk about his new book, he said he originally came here "on accident."
“I had finished my masters degree in psychology at San Francisco State College,” Green said. “At the same time I got a masters, I pursued my certification as a school psychologist which I received.”
Green said he applied to multiple school districts in California but, none of them would hire a person of color.
“It was the act of racial discrimination that led me to Michigan State,” Green said.
As time went on, Green realized he needed to act fast in order to take care of his family.
“I heard about scholarships and fellowships that universities would give to pursue the doctorate,” Green said. “I applied to Michigan State, the University of Michigan, Wayne State and the University of Arizona. I finally selected Michigan State primarily because of the housing.”
Green taught in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education in the College of Education.
Being a civil rights leader, Green had the opportunity to work for Martin Luther King Jr. Green assisted with bringing King to speak on MSU's campus in 1965.
“Martin Luther King Jr., more than anyone, any other political civil rights leader, helped the black community overcome fear of death,” Green said.
Green said he would warn King to be careful but King would ensure him he knew, in his line of work, his life was always in danger.
“After King’s assassination, about 50 students showed up at my house and they were angry and they wanted to do something,” Green said. “No anger, no bottle throwing, we’ll meet at the Union building.”
Green said this meeting at The Union was meant for students to vent about their feelings.
“There were some black students that didn’t want whites to enter the ballroom,” Green said. “I told them King would not support that. We brought in a very multiracial crowd.”
After the meeting, Green said the students and himself marched.
Green's latest book, "At the Crossroads of Fear and Freedom: The Fight for Social and Educational Justice" was published last fall and is a memoir featuring stories of civil rights campaigns.