In 1961, Ralph A. Long Jr., Lawrence Williams and Ford C. Greene
(L to R), became the first Black students at Georgia Tech.

Believing in the Journey

The late 50s and early 60s were a time of struggle and often painful progress in the country and especially in the Deep South. Integration of the Southern states’ public schools was typified by police dogs, riot squads, angry mobs, even governors blocking the doors to institutions of higher education. Young Black men and women courageously walked across thresholds that did not welcome them, and in most cases did not even tolerate them.

Atlanta’s Mayor William Hartsfield declared the city “too busy to hate.” At the same time, Georgia Tech President Harrison and Associate Dean of Students James E. Dull made it clear to Tech students that riots and demonstrations would not be tolerated and students who participated in these events would be expelled.  The Institute’s status as the only technological institution in the South with a national reputation was emphasized; any demonstrations would affect the future of the school.

In 1961, Ford C. Greene, Ralph A. Long Jr., and Lawrence Williams became the first Black students at Georgia Tech.  With the admission of these three young men, the Georgia Institute of Technology became the first public university in the Deep South to achieve integration without a court order.

And the Journey Continues...

Change through innovation has been key to Georgia Tech's success. It is the philosophy that bonds the community. For African Americans at Georgia Tech, the pace has sometimes been slow but the journey has been dramatic. We look at a university now that has some of the best and brightest minds in the nation and leads the country in the number of African American engineers. Fifty years of believing in the journey have propelled Tech into the forefront of higher education. The footsteps of Ralph Long, Ford Greene, and Lawrence Williams remain and will always be a part of every African American student’s journey across the Georgia Tech campus.

Ford C. Greene

Mr. Greene studied chemical engineering at Georgia Tech and received his BS in Computer Science and Mathematics from Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. He completed post-graduate courses at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and at Johns Hopkins University. He is an acknowledged wireless communication industry leader, having served as a keynote speaker for both industry conferences and the Federal Communications Commission.

He is currently an independent management and telecommunications consultant assisting small cable companies to implement data and voice strategies. Prior to being named president of Frontier Telephone of Rochester, Mr. Greene was founder and president of United Communications Systems International, Inc. a minority-owned telecommunications company that built and is currently operating a broadband fiber and wireless data network in Ghana, West Africa.

Mr. Greene has more than twenty-five years of extensive experience in design and deployment of terrestrial broadband data, microwave, satellite, and information technology systems in the public and private sectors. He has testified at Congressional hearings on behalf of minority and women-owned businesses in telecommunications and continues to be active in regulatory and legislative activities. He currently resides with his wife in Webster, NY.

Ralph A. Long Jr.

Mr. Long is currently president of uiConcepts Corporation, a high-tech company that focuses on the development of innovative user interfaces, using sensory positional systems, integrated with wireless technology and enterprise data management to produce animated video and internet information portals.

He began his career as a system engineer at IBM in Atlanta and advanced his career through data processing positions in Atlanta and New Jersey. At AT&T Long Lines, he pioneered rapid application development (prototyping) for it's overseas applications and was an IS  project leader in the Bell System divestiture. Prior to his current position, Mr. Long was the project manager of or Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority's (MARTA) components of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), a demonstration system for today's cellular, GPS, transportation management and graphic data systems, for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also was a manager for IT applications and enterprise data management in Atlanta. He remains a resident of Atlanta.

Lawrence Williams

After attending Georgia Tech for several years, Mr. Williams was drafted into the Air Force in 1967 and served honorably in the Vietnam war. During his service he earned several distinctions and honors. He was selected for the Drum and Bugle Corp in basic training and then chosen for leadership training school where he graduated at the top of his class.

While at Georgia Tech, Mr. Williams studied electrical engineering but always had a passion for aeronautics. Mr. Williams made a successful career in the military and since retiring has traveled the world lecturing on aerospace and aviation. Retirement has provided him with the opportunity to assist his elderly mother, volunteer at his church and in the community, and assist with the Aviation Cadet program at the Atlanta airport. This program provides leadership, emulates military customs, and provides information about aviation to more than ninety students ranging in age from 12  to 21.