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Pinecrest Elementary renamed to honor civil rights leader

Robert Green was the first black man to buy a house in East Lansing
Pinecrest Elementary is renamed after civil rights leader, Robert Green.
Pinecrest Elementary is renamed after civil rights leader, Robert Green.(WILX)
Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - East Lansing’s Pinecrest Elementary is getting a new name in honor of a civil rights pioneer.

It’s going to be known as Robert Green Elementary after the first black man to own a home in the city, integrating the district.

Green also played a key role in the national civil right’s movement.

“I want to tell you what, it brought tears to my eyes last night,” said Vince Green, Robert Green’s son.

Vince Green is believed to be the first black student in East Lansing Public Schools.

He went to Pinecrest Elementary from second to sixth grade after his father bought a home in the neighborhood.

“My dad was very humble so he didn’t speak a lot about it until recent years,” Green said.

Now that school is named after his dad, who now lives in Virginia.

Robert Green often stood between police and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement in the 60s.

“They were close. Dr. King personally recruited my dad,” Green said. “We were young. We understood the importance of it, to a certain extent. But there were parts where my brothers and I were wondering, we started seeing what has happening on T.V., if my dad would ever come home.”

Vince Green said at the time, he didn’t realize he would be a trailblazer himself as one of the first black students at Pinecrest.

He said it was a great experience for him, thanks to his dad.

“My dad did a lot of things to protect us because we would get calls. Menacing and threatening calls, threatening our family. We didn’t know that. My dad protected us from that,” said Green.

He also didn’t realize how big of a role his dad played in the civil rights movement until he was older, and he’s still amazed.

“They were very young when you think about it, to me it’s amazing how young they were and what they were doing,” said Green.

East Lansing Public Schools does need to file some paperwork with the state to officially change the name of the school.

Board members hoped everything will be done sometime by the end of the next month.

The home Robert Green bought in East Lansing is getting a historical marker too, it’s expected to be unveiled next month.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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