Friday, March 11, 2011

Black History Month Feature: Harold Greene Documentary

Civil-Rights in the Courthouse

Harold Greene
Harold H. Greene (born Heinz Grünhaus) was a federal judge for the United States District Court in the District of Columbia. From that post in 1982, Greene ruled on the anti-trust case that resulted in the break-up of AT&T, the nation's largest corporation at that time. But, according to a documentary on his life, funded by a Humanities Council grant in 2007, Greene never considered this ground-breaking decision his greatest achievement; he was most proud of the cases he argued throughout his early career, working to uphold civil-rights legislation and end segregation throughout the south.

Greene and his family left Germany in the 1940s to escape the Nazi government. He had seen oppression and the creation of a second class citizenry and was appalled to see that such things were so entrenched in United States. From 1957 to 1965 Greene served as Chief of Appeals Research at the United States Department of Justice Civil-Rights Division where he was instrumental in forming the legal basis for the Civil-Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The film notes that Judge Harold Greene is often give less recognition for these achievements than some of his contemporaries who worked in the field – on the “front-lines” of the Civil-Rights movement. Does Greene deserve as much recognition as the participants at the Greensboro Sit-Ins, the Freedom Riders, or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Is the legal manifestation of demonstrations, rallies, protest as important as those events themselves. Watch the film and read more about the legislation and cases on which Greene labored and let us know what you think.

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