By Shannon Nia Alomar
For Ernest Gideon Green, high school was defined with police and angry mobs. He shared this experience with eight other African-American students who together became known as the historical and influential Little Rock Nine.
On Tuesday, the NAACP Hofstra Chapter, the Hofstra Cultural Center and the New Opportunities at Hofstra (NOAH) Program held an event to allow the Hofstra community to listen to Green speak about what it meant to be a part of the movement that he believed helped to open to door for future students.
Along with Green, the students involved were Minnijean Brown, Terrence Roberts, Elizabeth Eckford, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Jerfferson Thomas and Carlotta Walls. They attempted to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. Their mission was to be a test case for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. the Board of Education in the early 1950s.
Green expressed to student media outlets that every generation should find a conventional issue they are willing to combat or take a stand on.
"It was apparent they did not want me, or any other of the Little Rock Nine students there, but for some reason the way they got all flustered about our presence made me realize that this was more than going to school, this was the beginning of something much greater," Green said.
Alaysia Williams, junior health science major and NAACP Hofstra Chapter public relations chair, expressed her admiration for Green at the reception dinner that was held on the 10th floor of the Axinn Library.
"Saying you look up to someone is one thing and watching historical films and interviews featuring them is another," Williams said. "But after tonight I will be able to tell people tomorrow, and 10 years from now, that I met Ernest Green, the man who walked into school one day and graduated. A figment of history that helped me, a minority woman, reach where I am today. That is powerful and humbling."
When Green settled at the podium in the Student Center Theater he said he wanted to start off his speech in an "unconventional" manner.
He encouraged audience members to take pictures, text their friends, live-tweet and capture videos because he wanted his message to reach whoever it could.
"You never know what next great leader you may already know, and this could be the push they have been searching for," Green said.
The reoccurring theme throughout his speech was leadership, and Green made certain to remind people that his first day and graduation day at Central High were not easy taks.
But his will to go on allowed him to overcome the challeneges he faced.
During the question and answer portion of the discussions, students asked Green questions relating to his personal thoughts and trials from attending Central High. He jokingly told the audience his friends call him the "oldest high school senior" because all he does is travel to talk about his high school experience. But, he wants others to understand how significant this time was.
Jordan Buddoo, freshman political science major, told his friends that listening to Green speak was surreal.
"Who would've thought I would meet and be able to listen to, in person, someone I learned about in my textbooks? Who would [have] thought?" Buddoo said.
Green ended his discussion on an inspiring note.
"You have an opportunity at a place like Hofstra to show what the future can hold," Green said. "Whatever you do with your experience, make it meaningful and make it impactful and never sit back in silence."
Additional reporting by Briana Smith