Adam S. Green
Adam Simpson Green was the first African‑American man to graduate from Colby College (although another African American man, Jonas H. Townsend, was a member of the class of 1849, Green was the first African American man to graduate, in 1887). He was also the fourth person of color to graduate from a Maine college. He was born on December 19, 1857 in Aberdeen, Mississippi. Green became an ordained minister and had a long career in higher education.
Green was the oldest person in his class when he attended Colby. He was almost 30 when he graduated. At Colby, Green was a very opinionated man. He expressed many of his opinions about the state of the nation after the civil war in several of his articles that he wrote for the Colby Echo. He commented mostly on the social, moral, and political statuses of the Negro man from the south.
In Green’s Echo articles, he critiqued all the citizens of the South. He scolded theformer slave owners’ superiority complexes, while he was disgusted at the former slaves’ inferiority complexes. Green recognized that these complexes were “the present social evils of the South” which were resultants from the inhuman custom of slavery. But Green continuously argued for progress in the South and he tried to search for answers for this widespread problem. Though the war was over, the mentality still resonated. Green stated, “indeed, it used to be a common saying, and it can now be heard in many places of the South: ‘Naught’s a naught, and five’s a figure; all for the account, and none for the nigger.” To Green, very little seemed to have changed since slavery.
Green continued to be an avid writer following his time at Colby, and he published a poem titled “The Negro’s Past, Present & Future” for the 24th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamtion in 1889. The poem reflects on many historical figures, including this passage on Toussaint L’Ouverture:
“Sleep calmly in thy dungeon tomb,
Beneath Besancon’s alien sky,
Dark Haytian! – for the time shall come,
Yea, even now is nigh,
When everywhere thy name shall be
Redeemed from color’s infamy;
And men shall learn to speak of thee
As one of earth’s great spirits, born
In Servitude, and nursed in Scorn,
Casting aside the weary weight
And fetters of its low estate,
In that strong majesty of soul
Which knows no color, tongue or clime,
Which still hath spurned the base control
Of tyrants through all time.”The poem’s final stanza reads:
“He is rising! rising! rising!
Upward! Upward!! See him go!!!
Growing better, growing wiser,
Till he perfect bliss shall know.”
Green wrote articles that provoked people to think about civil rights and equality. For some people, the articles were very challenging. A writer for the Vanderbilt Observer in Tennessee took offense to Green’s articles and his view of the South. The reporter wrote to Green mockingly stating, “now, my dear author, whoever you may be,permit me to say that your knowledge of the negro question in the South can only be equalled by that of the tattooed New Zealander of the delectable dish, ‘tooty‑fruity.” This statement basically poked fun at Green’s position and criticized Green for not having full knowledge of what it was really like experiencing the South since the article was coming from a newspaper in Maine. What the writer did not know was that Green was in fact born and bred in the South in a state that contained more blacks than in Tennessee.
After receiving his B.A. in 1887, Green traveled to Kasse, Texas where he accepted a teaching position in the spring of 1888. He later became a teacher at various public schools in Houston. In October of 1888, Green received his license to be able to preach at the Waterville Baptist Church. In 1889, Green wrote a poem for the 24th anniversary of the Emancipation of the American Negro at Houston, Texas. The poem was a vibrant twenty‑four page critique on the position of blacks titled “The Negro’s Past, Present and Future.”
Green later traveled back to Waterville to work to receive his masters, which he obtained on July 2, 1890 with twelve of his fellow classmates. During the fall of that same year, Green entered the Newton Theological Institute to continue his studies.
Green graduated from Newton in 1893. In October of that same year, the newly ordained Reverend Green answered a call to become a pastor of the Bethesda Baptist colored church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He served as the pastor for that church until 1895. Green later took a position as an instructor at the Bible Institute in Lawrence, Kansas from January to October of 1895.
Reverend Green later became an assistant instructor in the Divinity department of the Western Baptist College in Macon, Missouri, where he primarily taught students about the New Testament. He also taught math, Greek, and Hebrew. In 1902, Green briefly became a teacher in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Later that year, Green moved to Nova Scotia where he became a pastor at the Zion Baptist Church. He resigned from that position in October of 1904, and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana.