East Lansing elementary school being renamed for Civil Rights pioneer

Pinecrest Elementary will now be known as Robert L. Green Elementary.
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 9:40 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2021 at 12:45 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - An East Lansing school has been renamed to honor a civil rights pioneer. Pinecrest Elementary School will now be known as Robert L. Green Elementary.

At a renaming ceremony on Friday morning, community members heard from Dr. Green himself along with school and district leaders, and enjoyed performances from Robert L. Green Elementary school students.

The renaming ceremony was followed by a march to 207 Bessemaur Drive, where a historical marker was dedicated by the City of East Lansing

Dr. Green was the first Black person to purchase a home thanks to the use of former President John F. Kennedy’s Executive Order 11063, an order which provided equal opportunity in housing by prohibiting discrimination in the sale, leasing, and/or rental of properties.

In 1964, while serving as a professor at Michigan State University, realtors blocked Dr. Green from buying a home in East Lansing despite the 1948 U.S. Supreme Court decision stopping state enforcement of restrictive housing covenants. Dr. Green filed a complaint with the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, which had been granted “general authority to investigate alleged racial discrimination” by Michigan’s 1963 constitution.

The investigation of his complaint resulted in the Michigan Civil Rights Commission ordering a local realty company to sell to Dr. Green. Not wanting the company to profit from him, Dr. Green purchased a different home, located at 207 Bessemaur Drive in East Lansing.

Dr. Green’s high-profile case prompted local advocacy groups to fight housing discrimination, which ultimately resulted in the adoption of a fair housing ordinance by the East Lansing City Council on April 8, 1968, just four days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a close friend of Dr. Green’s.

Settled into their new home, Dr. Green’s children integrated what was then known as Pinecrest Elementary School.

At the ceremony, Dr. Green was joined by fellow civil rights leaders Ernest Green of the Little Rock Nine and Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

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