Students Kimmie DePinto and Jane Nelson from the Library and Information Sciences program have been working to archive materials from the family of Marlon Green, the African-American pilot whose employment discrimination lawsuit against Continental Airlines led to a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1963 and a victory for Green and the Civil Rights Movement.
Marlon Green was an Air Force veteran who, despite extensive flying experience, was unable to obtain employment as a commercial pilot in the 1950s; he secured an interview with Colorado-based Continental Airlines only after leaving the “race” box on the application unchecked. Green was ultimately passed over for employment at Continental in favor of white pilots with much less experience than he, leading to a complaint to Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Commission that he was discriminated against due to his race. The case was not resolved until the U.S. Supreme Court became involved and ruled in Green’s favor. Green went on to fly for Continental until his retirement in 1978.
Paula Green, Marlon’s daughter, contacted DU in 2015 about processing materials that came into her possession after the passing of her mother, Eleanor, and was able to begin working with DePinto and Nelson during the fall of 2015. Students from another university had processed some materials in 2004; however, Paula had since been in contact with the Smithsonian Institute about a possible donation of the collection and she wanted to renew progress on creating an organized collection in order to bring her father’s story to greater national prominence.
The project began as an independent study for DePinto, who was later joined by Nelson to assist. DePinto was interested in this opportunity because of her interest in working with minority collections to provide a voice for groups who would otherwise go unheard. “The hands-on involvement in a project of such importance allows students to put theory into action, provides a richer experience in the program beyond academic coursework, and prepares students for future employment” said LIS faculty Heather Ryan, Ph.D.