Civil Rights icon Dr. Alice Green reveals her roots

Special Reports

(NEWS10) — For her entire life, Alice Green felt a desire to help the marginalized or forgotten in our community, those who tend to be last in line or who go through life not getting a fair shake. To understand why, one need only look to her past.

“I embody the whole history of Black people in this country. My great-grandmother was a slave in South Carolina, she was considered someone’s property. The mere thought of that blows my mind,” Green said.

After being born in the south, her father immediately packed their bags and drove as north as they could go. “He was afraid of the criminal justice system, which was basically operating to re-enslave Black people. So, my father took us all the way to the Adirondacks.”

Green spent her childhood in a tiny hamlet called Witherbee, and from day one, she stood out. “My family was one of only two Black families in the whole town, so it was always sort of ‘us’ and ‘them.'”

Her mother told her the path to freedom was paved with education so, after graduating from high school, Alice Green attended the University at Albany. She would earn three master’s degrees and a doctorate.

It was the death of a young Black man named Jessie Davis at the hands of the Albany police that really changed Alice’s life.

“Police said they shot him because he attacked them with a knife and fork, but a photo later showed he was holding keys and a toy truck.”

Green started the Center for Law and Justice months later and dedicated her life to helping minorities and low-income families get justice in our criminal justice system. Over the years, she has rubbed politicians the wrong way, like that time she was arrested after upsetting Gov. George Pataki.

“I unfurled my banner in silent protest at one of his speeches, and state troopers picked me up and carried me out,” Green says. “Since they were arresting me and I was being carried out, I have to admit I did then shout my message.”

Green has won numerous awards and been invited to the White House numerous times. But her roots remain in Albany, with her feet planted firmly on the ground to support those who need a voice.

“I can’t stand the thought of putting people behind bars. There’s something wrong with that, and I cannot rest. It’s not effective and it enslaves people,” she says.

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