By Nevaeh Vasquez, Silva High School —
A man with great stories and incredible accomplishments, Major General Edward Greer is still commanding attention after being retired from the U.S. Army since 1976. In the small rooms of the McCall community center, Greer offsets his larger-than-life persona with light conversationa and jokes.
Born on March 8, 1924, Greer grew up in West Virginia and like most people of color at the time, he was a target for racism and discrimination. While he was growing up, he was segregated and treated poorly. According to him, this treatment did not stop when he came to El Paso to attend the school at Fort Bliss.
“Lots of discrimination, lots of segregation,” Greer said when he came to school for the military in El Paso.
Although the post was not segregated, Greer said when he opened the doors and went outside, everything else was segregated. He had to go to the back door to get a simple hot dog while white people got to enter the building through the front door. Nevertheless, he worked hard and then became a general in 1972.
During his time as a general, he said, he got no hate and was not treated poorly.
“Well, I didn’t have any problems being a black general. The problem might have been on the other side” Greer said.
The military gave him an opportunity to travel and he even lived in Washington for a while before returning to El Paso to settle down. He wanted to come back here because of the climate, he said it has some of the best weather. But the diversity was also a draw.
“You have so many different variations of communities, so many thoughts and ideas,” Greer said.
Looking back, Greer said he regrets not leaning into that diversity and learning Spanish.
“A kid growing up in El Paso needs to learn how to speak Spanish,” he said.
This story was produced as part of the 2023 High School Journalism Camp at the McCall Center. The center hosted a one-week journalism camp where El Paso high school students publlished a special edition of The Good Neighbor Interpreter, a regional newspaper that McCall Center founder Leona Ford Washington once published with news about the Black community. The El Paso History museum sponsored the camp as part of the city’s 150th anniversary this year.