Being a College President Does Not Necessarily Relieve an African American of the Indignities of Race

In the summer of 2006 Dr. Velvie Green, then serving as provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan, was named president of Glendale Community College in Arizona. Green holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Western Michigan University and a doctorate from Michigan State University.

But when she and her husband were searching for housing in the Phoenix area, she was reminded of the fact that, without regard to her educational and occupational credentials, some people will judge her first on the color of her skin.

According to a lawsuit filed by the Arizona attorney general, the Greens sought a townhouse rental through an agent. When the agent approached the owner with the offer, the agent was asked if the couple was black. At the same time, the owner made disparaging remarks about African Americans. The owner refused to give the rental at the asking price and sent the Greens a counteroffer at a higher price. The Greens accepted the higher rate but they were still not given a lease. The owner told the rental agent that she did not want to rent to black people.

The owner and the rental agent recently agreed to a $55,000 settlement of the case. While they admitted no wrongdoing, the owner and the rental agent both agreed, as part of the settlement, to attend fair housing training.