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Posted: 3:05 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lucille Green Otto, 88: Activist fought for the rights of all people

By Emily Farlow

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Lucy Green Otto was “a woman ahead of her time,” said her daughter Angele Green Johnson, of Atlanta.

Green Otto became involved in the NAACP in Cincinnati in the 1950s, registering people to vote.

In 1963, she coordinated the Cincinnati effort for the March on Washington, and during the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, she was arrested with Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists.

“When we were growing up many of the civil rights leaders, including Martin Lither King and Reverend (Joseph) Lowery, were in our house planning meetings,” said Green Johnson. “Our house was kind of like ground zero for the planning of the Civil Rights movement out of Cincinnati.”

Johnson recalled a time when she marched alongside her parents, people spitting in their faces. She asked her mother why people were acting in such a way, and Green Otto said, “They are angry people and they just don’t know any better.”

Johnson said her mother responded with integrity and nonviolence to those who mistreated her and others.

Lucille Green Otto, of Atlanta, died June 25 of natural causes. She was 88. One memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Atlanta Hospice Center and another at 7 p.m. Aug. 8 at Martha’s Vineyard. Cremation Society of Georgia is in charge of arrangements.

In 1968 Green Otto founded the Preparation, Recruitment and Employment Program (PREP) Inc., which trained minority men, and eventually women, for jobs in construction and other skilled trades.

“She made great strides for minorities and women, and getting them into jobs where they had been excluded, and giving them the skills and tools they needed to stay there,” said longtime friend and colleague Janeiro Reginald Coulter.

Green Otto moved to Atlanta in 2003, and loved going to local restaurants in the area. Her favorite restaurant was Goldberg’s Bagel Company and Deli on West Paces Ferry. “Everybody knew her name there. Everybody called her ‘Mama Lucy,’ and she loved that,” said Green Johnson.

She also loved traveling, and Martha’s Vineyard was one of her “homes away from home.”

But of all her accomplishments and accolades, Coulter said Green Otto was proudest of her children.

“Every time she was ever named for some kind of honor, she would always say she considered her greatest accomplishment to be her children,” he said.

“She raised all of us to be our own person,” said Green Johnson. “She would ask us how we felt about something and we were allowed to express ourselves completely.”

In addition to her daughter Angele Green Johnson, Lucy Green Otto is survived by son Charles L. Green of Washington D.C., daughter Licia Green Ellis of Houston, Texas and 10 grandchildren.

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