“Learn About” Questions
- What are reparations and why are they needed?
- Who was Thurgood Marshall?
- What was the ’54 Brown vs. Board of Education case about?
- In what ways did discrimination impact labor unions?
- How did/does the court system help/hinder the civil rights movement?
“Learn From” Questions
- Is there an experience in my life I feel I am owed a reparation for? What is it?
- Have I ever had to take an issue to court to get a settlement? What was that like for me?
- What is my experience with groups such as unions or clubs?
- What are examples of issues I am willing to fight for – personal or professional?
I’ve been involved in a fight for reparations for people of color, especially Black people in local 28… for years. Did I show you… the Times did a whole big thing. But I was involved with that for years. Matter of fact, one of the judges who sat on hearing our case—Robert Carter—was one of the judges, he was a side law person with Thurgood Marshall during the ’54 Brown vs. Board… decision. Judge Carter stayed on our case, shoot, over 30 years ‘til he died. The case still wasn’t settled. And finally, there was some kind of a settlement. And it comes down to, there’s some of us that are receiving some form of reparation, cause when I came to local 28, we had a president—when did I come in? ’64?—that was Nixon, we had a president Mell Farrell and he said it publicly, let it be known, “Ain’t no Niggas coming in local 28.” And that was him with sheet metal, yet and still, now here is Harry Van Osdale was president of the electrical workers, you know, that was totally different than Mell Farrell. And electricians in New York, pffwh… you know if you can work normally on any of these jobs and get a half-assed pension, you can live like a decent human being. You know and we got this crazy person… “occupant” that threatens all of that. White people blaming Black people… takin’ their job? Get the hell outa here! (laughs) But yeah, this is what I’ve been involved with lately. So I consider myself fortunate to still… you know, there’s more than just kicking the can down the road. Cause everybody wants to live decent. Nobody wants to… I had to deal with a fire in my building. When was that? Three four years ago… fire. I lived in a shelter for over a year until my apartment got…and I had to fight to get that, you know this is the middle of Harlem, you know the kinds of rents the way real estate works, if you get somebody out, anybody coming in is paying triple, quadruple especially if you know been there long enough to keep…but real estate in New York…whew! I don’t know how some of those people do it. It’s off the chain. But yeah I had to take people running my building…I had to take ‘em to court a handful of times. Cause you know in situations like fires…the only thing that counts – is a matter of how much is there, how it’s gonna be divided up…you know what entity is going to take what part…I had to deal with all of that…people in the apartment doing work all the time. They’re telling me, “Mr. Green, you’re not supposed to be here!” I couldn’t move my things out, I had to move everything in the center of two rooms. You think I’m just gonna walk away. I got it half-way, I’m back in the place, but to have gone through that…there are people still out that need to be back in the building.