Chico State professor receives human rights award

Susan Green, associate professor of Chicano studies and history, has marched with the United Farm Workers several times to advocate for equal opportunity for the Hispanic community. Photo courtesy of Susan Green.

Promoting equal opportunity, reducing violence and being an advocate for peace are just a few things that made Chico State professor Susan Green an ideal candidate to win the California Teachers Association’s 2015 Cesar Chavez “Si Se Puede” Human Rights award.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, Green was interested in Chicano studies because it was a field that incorporated activism into teaching, she said.

At the university, she was trained to make the campus and its resources available to everyone in the community.

Shortly after moving to California, she had the opportunity to march with the United Farm Workers, a labor union that Cesar Chavez was instrumental in helping to form in the 1960s.

“I’ve walked with them many times,” Green said.

She lobbied for legislation to improve conditions for students and teachers in the classroom, and workers in the field. She also made it her mission to help first-generation college students navigate their way through higher education, she said.

“Working with the students, faculty and colleagues in Chicano studies and MEChA are some of my best memories,” Green said. “I’ve had the privilege to be able to make a difference in people’s lives through public higher education.”

Green’s goals and dedication to Hispanic students and workers in the field inspired a colleague nominate her for the award, which she will accept on March 7 at the Equity and Human Rights Conference in the Bay Area.

“I was extremely honored and humbled to be recognized by my colleagues,” Green said. “Some of my colleagues, other teachers, also worked tirelessly, day in and day out, to educate both children and adults in the state of California.”

The award is given to someone whose work has helped to achieve equal opportunities for Hispanics in America. The award also honors the legacy of Chavez, whom Green admires.

“Doing the work he and thousands of other members of the United Farm Workers have done since the ’60s has improved the lives of millions of people,” Green said. “Incorporating this work into a statewide holiday and into the K-12 standards in California schools has completely changed Californians’ literacy on some issues.”

Green hopes to build deeper connections and network with Chico State and rural service regions. It is vital as we sit on the cusp of becoming a Hispanic-serving institution, she said.

“It has been wonderful meeting new people and learning about the work they are doing,” Green said. “I cannot conceive my job any other way.”

DJ Morris can be reached at [email protected] or @djthejournalist on Twitter.