The keynote speaker for the 38th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast will be Ernest Green, one of the legendary “Little Rock Nine” who integrated Central High School in 1957-58.
The breakfast, sponsored by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County, will be held Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Crowne Plaza Resort. The event begins at 8:30 am, with doors opening at 8:00 am.
When the federal government ordered Arkansas to integrate its public schools under the Brown v. Board of Education ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, the NAACP, which had brought the suit, knew the dangers the students would face. And in fact, the children were threatened, harassed, punched, kicked, spat on, yelled at, pushed down stairways, had food poured on their heads and clothing, their books trashed and stolen, and often had to run a gauntlet of racist white students and their parents—with little support from indifferent teachers and administrators. Green graduated in 1958, but Gov. Orval Faubus closed the school for the 1958-59 school year, forcing the rest of the students to go elsewhere to graduate.
As a result of his courage and determination in surviving that year at Central High, Green received the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal at the age of 17—the youngest recipient in the organization’s history. He also became an Eagle Scout and was awarded the Silver Beaver Award, the highest distinction in the Boy Scouts of America.
Following graduation, Green earned a bachelor’s degree in social science and a masters in sociology from Michigan State University. (He has also received honorary doctorates from Michigan State University, Tougaloo College, and Central State University.)
He later served as President Jimmy Carter’s Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training, formulating policy and directing training and employment security programs, apprenticeship programs, public service employment, alien worker certification, and work incentive programs for the disadvantaged. President Bill Clinton appointed him Chairman of the African Development Foundation, and Clinton’s Secretary of Education, Richard W. Riley, named him Chairman of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Capital Financing Advisory Board.
Now a partner at Matrix Advisory, with offices in New York and Washington, DC, Green’s experience helping states, cities, municipalities and governmental authorities finance their needs has led to his helping lead Matrix into a new era of public-private partnerships. He also uses his international contacts to assist international leaders with their needs, particularly in the area of infrastructure.
Mr. Green serves on the Board of Directors of Fisk University, Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) Network, and Clark Atlanta University Board of Trustees. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Executive Leadership Council, and the National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP), which he chaired for two years. Other awards include the Urban League’s Frederick Douglass Freedom Medal and the John D. Rockefeller Public Service Award. In 1999 Mr. Green and his Little Rock Nine colleagues were presented by President Clinton with America’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.
Green is a founding charter member of the Sigma chapter of Omega Psi Phi, as well as past Sire Archon of Sigma Pi Phi. He has been featured three times in Black Enterprise magazine’s list of the top 25 African Americans on Wall Street.
For more information and details about the 2018 Prayer Breakfast, contact Darryl Rhymes, Chair of the Prayer Breakfast Committee, at [email protected]. For more information about the MLK Association and related activities, or to purchase tickets to the Prayer Breakfast (subject to availability), please visit the website at www.MLKAsheville.org.
In addition to the Prayer Breakfast, the MLK Association holds other events during the national holiday weekend to commemorate Dr. King and build upon his legacy of peace and justice. A Peace March and Rally will take place beginning at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21, at St. James AME Church at Martin Luther King Drive and Hildebrand Street, followed at noon by a march to City-County Plaza. That evening at 6 p.m. a Candlelight Service at Central United Methodist Church’s Fellowship Hall will honor area citizens who have dedicated themselves to the cause of social justice. The association also honors area youth with a Youth Celebration and Awards in the spring, and commemorates Juneteenth each summer.